Game Plan Japan News Report 07.12.12
Posted by Ernest Lin on 07.12.2012
GPJ returns! This week features a brief recap of my experience at E3, discussion of Persona 4 Arena becoming the first region-locked PS3 game, a look at Square Enix's next-gen engine Luminous, news on Fate/Stay Night on PS Vita, a new Idolm@ster PSP Game, Hatsune Miku Project Diva F and more!
Konnichiwa and welcome back to 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.
Sumimasen ("Sorry") for being MIA for the past month! After my three weeks in Tokyo and E3, I was exhausted and needed some time off. Two weeks after getting back, I had a final project due for my Japan study abroad course. Then I had to get back to my part-time assistant manager position at the on-campus video game store. On top of all this, I honestly have been going through counter culture shock/slight depression since coming back from Japan.
E3 2012 Wrap-Up
Tackling E3 right after studying abroad in Tokyo was kind-of rough, but still an absolute blast. There were more than enough games to check out. There were dozens of industry stars, journalists, and celebrities I saw; Geoff Keighley (GTTV), Cliff Belinski (Epic Games, Gears of War), Frank O'Connor (Halo's 343 Industries), Verne Troyer (Austin Powers' Mini-Me), Jim Sterling (Destructoid) to name a few. Felicia Day was even one of the people in my Bethesda appointment. I was even first in line to meet the two lead actors of The Last of Us, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, and received postcard both of them autographed. One particular crazy night that I may write about, I met Suda51 (pictured above) at a party, drank with id Software President Todd Hollenshead for hours at the very same party, and somehow ended up eating breakfast at 2 AM with Scot Amos (formerly at EA, now executive producer at Crystal Dynamics) and other Crystal Dynamics guys. Maybe I'll write up my experience that night to share.
However E3 was not all fun and leisure and most of it was exhausting: attending press conferences, rushing to appointments, waiting in lines, scribbling down notes, etc. I definitely could sympathize with the Japanese journalists and developers who too had to deal with the jet lag.
Anyways, please look forward to my E3 2012 content, which includes previews, impressions, and interviews, in the coming weeks and I apologize for the delay!
Fate/Stay Night Being Ported to PlayStation Vita
Fate/Stay Night is one of the biggest visual novels in Japan and spawned a franchise filled with spin-off games, anime, and manga adaptations. Coming November 29 of this year, Japanese PlayStation Vita owners will get to experience where it all started on the go with Fate/Stay Night Realta Nua. If that name sounds familiar, that's because it was the name of the PlayStation 2 port of the original Fate/Stay Night PC visual novel game. Realta Nua removed any erotic content, allowing it to be rated for age 15 and up, and added voice acting by the stars of the anime adaptation. No new content will be added in the PS Vita version aside from a new opening animation produced by Ufotable. Of course the art work will be uprezzed to look beautiful on the OLED screen of the PS Vita. Sounds all good, right?
Unfortunately, due to the PS Vita having a widescreen resolution, all of the artwork in the Vita version of Fate/Stay Night Realta Nua had to be cropped, as shown above (both the PS2 and PC versions were in full-screen resolution). Hopefully there will be an option to play it in a full-screen mode to see the complete original artwork. Also, the game will retail for 6,300 yen (~$79 USD). Quite an outrageous price considering the original game came out in 2004 and the PC version is surely cheaper.
As of now, there has been no mention of any plans to localize Fate/Stay Night Realta Nua outside of Japan. Fan translated patched exist online for the PC version if you are dying to play it. Aksys Games localized and released the spin-off PSP RPG title Fate Extra last year.
Persona 4 Arena Will be the First Region-Locked PlayStation 3 Game
One thing I have loved about Sony's systems after the PlayStation 2, like the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita, is that all of them are region-free. There is the ability to region lock games on these platforms, but no one ever has...until now. Persona 4 Arena will be the very first PlayStation 3 game to utilize region-locking.
Now before you go cancelling your Persona 4 Arena pre-order, the North American release will be identical in content to the Japanese one, including both English and Japanese audio tracks included. So people here have nothing to gain from importing, but Japanese players do. In a first for Atlus, Persona 4 Arena will come out in North America only a mere two weeks after it does in Japan. If Japanese gamers import the North American version, then they pay about 4,778 yen before shipping, 35 percent off the original Japanese release cost of 7,329 yen. Not region-locking could hurt sales numbers in Japan as well as retailers over there. In a recent press release, Atlus stated this fact: "Importing, as great as it is for gamers who otherwise can't get access to a title, can also cannibalize the performance of a title in one territory to the benefit of another. While we're all one big Atlus family, the reality is that the dramatic difference between the Yen and the Dollar makes for a dramatic difference in price."
If no content is changed and dual-audio is included, I have no gripes with region-locking. Atlus has gone on record saying, "This is NOT the beginning of a new Atlus policy, nor do we view it as a precedent or a slippery slope." For importers out there, I hope so.
Square Enix Unveils Next Gen Engine Luminous at E3 2012
A surprise for me at this year's E3 was Square Enix unveiling their next-generation game engine Luminous with the "Agni's Philosophy -- Final Fantasy Realtime Tech Demo" video. Luminous looks amazing, surpassing even the pre-rendered cutscenes we have seen in Square Enix titles and reaching near Hollywood level visuals. In an interview with Famitsu magazine, Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada discussed the goal of the Luminous engine is to provide an engine that could be appropriated to general use but still was designed well for role-playing games, whether they be very action-oriented or not. Despite the Luminous tech demo carrying the label Final Fantasy, Wada emphasized the engine will be multi-purposed for different kinds of games and is not being developed just for the next generation Final Fantasy. Does that mean Square Enix is hoping to license the engine to other studios? "We aren't thinking about selling the engine externally," stated Wada regarding the topic.
Namco Bandai Announces JoJo's Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle
Since 1987, writer and illustrator Hirohiko Araki has entertained tens of thousands with his manga series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. At the series' 25th anniversary press conference, Araki announced that Namco Bandai was working on a JoJo's fighting game for PlayStation 3 titled JoJo's Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle. CyberConnect2, the studio behind the .hack games and Naruto: Ultimate Ninja fighting games, is in charge of development.
Hatsune Miku Project Diva F Adds Touch Interaction, Moving AR mode, and over 30 songs, 80 Costumes
Previously, I reported that Hatsune Miku Project Diva F will feature all-new content not seen in previous games and and augmented reality mode with the ability to take picture of Miku in your everyday life. Some additional details on both have been unveiled via a leaked picture of the game's case. Over 30 new songs and 80 "modules" (aka costumes) will be included in the game. In Project Diva F's AR mode, not only will players have the opportunity to snap photos with Miku, they will be able to watch "live" performances of her wherever they are. The 3DS title Hatsune Miku Project Mirai had AR live performances of a chibi Miku on tabletops. With the PS Vita's additional horsepower, the AR live performance in Project Diva F will be with a full-size Hatsune Miku! If that's not enough, players will be able to enjoy "touch communication" with Miku and other Vocaloid characters. Could Hatsune Miku Project Diva F be a near-killer app in Japan? Maybe.
Namco Bandai Announces Idolm@ster Shiny Festa Rhythm Game for PSP
As some of you may have noticed, I am a big Idolm@ster fan: While I was in Tokyo, I bought The Idolm@ster 2 for PlayStation 3 and a 765 Productions jacket that I ended up wearing some days of E3, causing some to think I was a developer. So I am more than excited for Namco Bandai's new rhythm game titled Idolm@ster Shiny Festa. As done with the last Idolm@ster PSP game (Idolm@ster SP), Shiny Festa will come in 3 different versions with each containing different idols and songs. Which girls each contains are as follows:
In addition, each version will include a different new anime episode from the same studio and director that produced the anime adapatation: A-1 Pictures and Atsushi Nishigori! Each version of Idolm@ster Shiny Festa will retail for 5,980 yen for the UMD release and 5,380 yenfor the download form. Having to spend as much as 17,940 yen (~$225 USD) for all 3 will be a major gripe among fans like myself. Plus, I do wish it was developed for PS Vita, as it would look amazing on its 5" OLED screen. This is just another indication of how popular the PSP still is in Japan.