Friday, July 30, 2010

Japanese games not covered elsewhere

With the loathsome banality that is EGM, GameFAN behind schedule, EDGE too god-damned crap, GamesTM not posted to me freely, and the WAHP podcast overdue and seemingly cancelled, there's a whole bunch of Japanese games which I nearly missed out on. Here's a rundown of Japanese games which are on my mind. Several of these are my posts from forums, but it's worth seeing the screen art and making a mental not of the game.

I should warn you, there are probably at least 36 other Japanese games I've not even had time to mention here. But this will have to do.


Available now on UMD or Japanese PSN if you’re impatient, this is apparently a follow-up to KOF Sky Stage. I’ve had no prior experience with KOF:SS, but Neo-Geo Heroes Ultimate Shooting is ace.

The shooting system I thought was really cool. You’ve got main attack (which is different for each character, either spread out, concentrated, or homing), and secondary attack which uses up a constantly recharging triple-bar. You’ve also got 3 bombs, which for some characters seems to have limited range, and a taunt button.

The taunt adds a very interesting dynamic to the game, since activating it cancels out all enemy projectiles. Which is great in a tight spot. But subsequent enemy attacks appear to be more powerful, so you need to gear yourself up for some quick dodging afterwards. Also, activating taunt causes all enemy score drops (tiny NeoGeo logos) to increase in rank. So if an enemy normally drops a small NeoGeo score item, using taunt will increase it to a medium or big score item. After a while the taunt wears off. I’ve found it most useful to save for tight spots or just before big enemies (like the gunships on stage 1), since they’ll then haemorrhage major points. If I get in trouble during taunt, it’s time to rely on bombs or pray you’ve got some energy saved.

There’s an energy bar for each character, which might annoy some, but there’s no lives. Die and it’s Game Over, or Continue time. I’ve been playing it 1CC fashion, and the diversity of characters and stages is keeping it interesting. It’s taken the Darius route for stages, with branching paths at the end of each one.

Speaking of Darius, I thought Darius Burst on PSP was probably the worst in the series. For me it was devoid of charm and reward, and after clocking it once I wasn’t given much incentive to play again. Apparently you can unlock other modes, but I couldn’t be bothered to try again. I will concede that Darius had the better soundtrack though!

In NGHUS, there’s loads of modes available right from the get go, and the 10 characters encourage experimentation. Once a stage has been reached it can be replayed at leisure, but be warned, starting from any stage other than 1 makes the game not count any of your NeoGeo score picks-ups at the end of the stage. Which is good. Because if you’re playing for score it encourages you to start from the beginning. But if you just want to play to the end, you can pick up where you left off really easily. It’s worth noting that after each stage your health and bombs do not recharge, meaning a 1CC of the entire game is going to take some work!

It also appears there’s a unique set of dialogue depending on which character faces which boss, and it’s kinda cool to have someone like Marco Rossi act as the boss of stage 1, and call on his tank, Metal Slug, or those POWs, to aid him in battle. The fact that everyone is flying around is kinda weird, but I love it.

There’s also plenty of artwork and so on to unlock, if that’s your bag.

I’ve spent most of my time just experimenting with all the characters, but this feels like a much deeper game, with more variety, more rewards, more modes and just more of everything than Darius Burst. Admittedly it’s vertical rather than hori like Darius, but if you really want a hori shmup just change the screen settings and control it as such (I tested this briefly, and it kinda works, apart from the odd background angle).

STORY MODE – 15 stages, 10 characters
Syd III – spaceship, fast, decent main attack, secondary is shield which is great, really fun to use
Kyo Kusanagi – fast, good main, poor secondary shield which is too slow
Terry Bogard – worst character. Slow. Lousy main. Ridiculously crap secondary which leaves him wide open.
Iori Yagami -
Akari Ichijo – seemingly non-existent secondary?
Marco Rossi – difficult to use. Main attack has 100 HEAVY MACHINEGUN bullets which when depleted leaves him with only a handgun, but the machinegun will recharge. Powerful secondary. Interesting from a conceptual point of view - not seen anything quite like it in other shmups.
Athena –
Kula Diamond -
Mai Shiranui – excellent character. Great main which is semi-homing (well, the fans cover a wide area at least), strong secondary. Weak bomb.
Iroha – biggest breasts in the game, and the most powerful character. Powerful main, with homing, epic secondary that is both shield and rebound attack which absolutely drains a boss’ energy bar (so fucking cool), plus her bomb targets the boss area and is super powerful.

Subject – specific tasks earn medals. Tricky, since objectives are in Japanese. This could offer tremendous replay value. I only played the first stage, and achieved 4 of the 13 tasks, but I’ve no idea what the others are. Reckon I’ll try this once I’ve clocked main mode a few times.

Survival - basically boss rush mode.

Multiplayer – not tested.

Sky Stage – port of the arcade game? Regardless, it sucks. Why play this when you have other modes? Still, awful nice of them to include it as a bonus.

Museum – unlock artwork and music.

Change the screen to be vertical or horizontal. Buttons are fully customisable (default setting sucks). I couldn’t get on with tate mode, but holding the PSP horizontal doesn’t prove too problematic.


I thought Darius Burst sucked. As in it was really pretty damn awful, like 4/10. And that's coming from a hardcore shmup fan. It's probably the worst in the Darius series. I spent a few hours with it, and found the whole thing repetitive and over-recycled. They re-used bosses for goodness sake!

Also, there's not much replay. I clocked it, got another ship, and thought bugger this. I never went back. It felt half-finished, whereas Neo Geo Heroes feels like a game and a half it's so substantial. Honestly I don't know what the **** Taito was thinking when it made Darius Burst. Ran out of budget? Bleurgh!

I didn't unlock any modes. Just the one ship, after a fair amount of effort and practice. I much prefer NGHUS because it provides a whole lot more to play with, and the reward/practice ratio is much more indulgent. It's instantly gratifying for a newcomer, and continues to gratify as your skills improve. Stage 1 now offers no challenge, and I'm working my way through the others. In Darius, I felt no need to improve my skill, it just wasn't in any way rewarding.

Maybe I'm lazy, maybe it's because I seldom put more than 10-20 hours on any game these days. But after a couple of hours it felt like I'd seen everything Darius had to offer. Maybe Darius Burst had some good stuff after unlocking, but that's a poor way to design a game. It's like a book that's absolutely crap until half way through. If I'm not hooked by the end of chapter 1 I put it down and read another.


Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2010 - PS3
There's a demo of this up on the Japanese PSN, for the PS3, so you better grab it quick before they take it down!

I just grabbed it as part of my "grab everything that goes up" mentality, but having played it today, I think it's rather fun.
I haven't played a baseball game since some on the Super Famicom, though I've always liked the kind with Super Deformed characters.

The demo is extremely short, with a preset team for you and the computer, and one chance to bat and one chance to pitch. Three strikes and you're out, three outs and it's change over time. What I like about this is how casual it looks - it's really meant to be fun rather than serious baseball. I watched some videos of Konami's other more serious baseball game on PS3, and it looks pretty grim, with sweaty players all sitting in the horrific uncanny valley.

Here though, the little dudes without arms or legs look really cool.

After a few goes I really got the hang of pitching, and managed three straight outs rather quickly. Batting will probably need some practice. You need to move a virtual icon of your bat and the timing to swing it pretty difficult.
There's a whole bunch of greyed out options in the demo, implying some depth in the final game. Online sources say you can create your own player, and manage a team to stardom, so all the usual baseball stuff.

To be honest, I'd absolutely love to own the full retail copy of this, but at $70 on import, it's a bit steep. The cheapest I've seen it on eBay is £40.


A.C.E.: Another Century's Episode R - PS3

Why have I not been hearing about this? Why has this gone under my radar despite being released on August 19th? This appears to be another Japan-exclusive action game, by the master FROM SOFTWARE, and no one is talking about it. This is what Wikipedia says:
A new dynamic shooting mode called Chase Mode has been added to the game. This mode is similar to arcade shooters wherein the player's machine moves on rails and leaves the targeting weapons for the player to control. Each chase mode section precedes a boss battle; the examples released so far include the battle against the Behemoth from Full Metal Panic! and the battle against Nora Polyansky from Macross Zero. It is currently unknown if the player can change the unit which participates in chase mode.

Man, that sounds ****ing awesome. Are you psyched? Because you should be. I'm gonna need $80 for importing... Quick, to the ebaymobile!

More to the point, why is no magazine talking about this? Why aren't there huge previews? Why aren't the import boys salivating over this? Why do I even need to talk about this, when it should be generating its own publicity?


Super Dimensional Game Neptune - PS3

Silicon Era preview.

The game takes place in the world of Geimugyokai, which means "Game Industry" in Japanese, the world is split into four different regions namely Platetume, Rinbox, Lasidition and Ruwii which are in turn protected by four goddesses. Players take the role of Neptune, a goddess who must defend the world against the attack of the evil goddess Majikonne. In order to do so Neptune must seek out Histoire, the book that contains the secrets to the world.

More here.

So basically it's a metagame ala Segagaga set in a world based on the world of videogames, with consoles based on the current big three? Where you need to fight the 360, PS3 and Wii? How is that not an awesome concept? The only downside is it's by Idea **** as the Japanese like to call them, who have a reputation for making some fairly awful, obfuscated RPGs. Still, I like the idea enough to be interest in a localisation. Will we ever see it? Not if no one talks about it!


Now, would everyone please email and pester EGM's editors for more Japanese coverage? I've got 5 subs issues which are looking less appealing with each blog post I make.

As the above wall of text proves to me: Japan is still rockin' it hot with a whole bunch of crazy awesome exciting games and concepts, but the west just doesn't want to know. Japan might as well give up on us and focus on herself, because no matter what gets announced, what she's working on, we in the west seem content with the mediocrity peddled bby triple-A studios like Activision.

In the west there appears to be a stoic defiant resistance to anything Japanese these days, and I find it frustrating. To hell with the idiots who bandy around derogatory terms for those who still like Japanese games. I will stand on this hill single handed if I have to, manning the ramparts like the last remaining knight against the barbarian Western hordes. Neo Tokyo shall not burn as long as I draw breath! Keep your Call of Duties, the only shooting I will do is in the skies. And as for RPGs, no Mass Effect, since I'm going to be taking on the virtual avatar of the 360 in a fictionalised gaming world which perhaps only exists in my mind.

Japan Ho!


  1. Not to sound too much like a smartass here but why don't you just subscribe to a japanese gaming magazine? Depending on the company you should still be able to get it sent to your door withing a resonable amount of time after release (and with a bit of extra cost).

    Though there are still games that slip past reveiwers but those are mostly shovelware/utter crap/starcraft 2 (which may well be one of the former).

    (yes i know starcraft 2 was legaly held from reviewers incase it got a bad score and damaged sales)

    Other pointless news, Level-5 are getting an american based office so prehaps they will publish some of those games or maybe move some of there more japanese stuff americawards (and if they translate for americans they'll probs do simularly for europe, which gets a studio 2011ish)

  2. 1. I know it's a blog post, but a little more editing, coherence, and calmness would do. It was a good post, though. Thanks.

    2. What about Time Of Phantasia/Jikan De Phantasia/Zikande De Phantasia? After middling Famitsu and scores (apparently it's really short) the follow-up from the main developer of Half-Minute Hero (the best PSP game in any region, I think) has gotten no coverage. I'd love to hear about it, since it looks quite neat. I'm not sure Opus deserves an article, but the blog would be a great spot for it. Also, I hate to ask for a Love-De-Lic-related game, but Sakura Note could be the 2nd in a "disappeared into oblivion unjustifiably"-themed post.

  3. Thanks for posting this. Although, I don't own a PSP or PS3, although I wish I could afford both. I enjoy reading the coverage. I would also like to commiserate with you about the possible death or just long hibernation of W:AHPA.

  4. Thanks for the update!

    If it weren't for japanese developers I would have jumped the video game ship a long time ago.

    I don't own a single western game for my PS2 (excluding my copies of Colony Wars and its sequel for the PS1). Roughly half of my PS3 collection is western developed, but I'd never even bought the damn thing if it hadn't been for Metal Gear Solid 4 and Valkyria Chronicles.

    Good to hear that someone gives a shit about the other side of the Pacific.

  5. To be fair, no one here in Japan is talking about most of that list either, Sketcz. Darius is so-so, Neo Geo Heroes is niche and mediocre, Neptune is from Idea Craptory, and Powerpro while awesome is a yearly series like Madden Football with about as much changed between installments.

    People *are* talking about ACE R, but not so much about the gameplay because again it's just the latest in a series.

  6. Judging from the most recent listing (, I am not sure Japan is really buying into these games either. Just like the U.S., the charts are filled with evergreen video game and anime products. A.C.E. could do well there and abroad, but the odds of it making headway out of Japan is unlikely. It is less a matter of popularity and more one of economic feasibility. Some folks will go the extra mile to buy a Japanese system and import, but I don't think the magazines you mentioned really cater to that group. They cater to the folks who keep evergreen characters on the video game characters.

  7. I'm a big fan of your site and follow it. I too am a Japanese gaming connoisseur and appreciate WAHP and the glory days of Diehard GameFan etc... You should check out the podcast I partake in (on iTunes and Mevio entitled ++GoodGames -- I am Anthony). Moreover, I've plugged WAHP and other Japanese gaming sites in the past (the podcast is not JPN-gaming exclusive, though it's more my forte). I hope you give it a shot/enjoy.

  8. Honestly, Neptune looks like shit. It's interesting seeing consoles(and a few companies) characterized as Mecha Lolis, that part was entertaining, and the art design is nice. Hell, seeing NIS characterized as a Prinny (potential) mecha loli was awesome.

    Other that that it just looks like another bland boring Jrpg system.

  9. Power Pro series actually have two localized game for the PS2/Wii named 'MLB Power Pros'. It's a lot of fun, comes with story mode where you create a player, and it's surprisingly deep.

  10. To be honest, I'd like to be able to play some of these Japanese games in English instead of getting gouged for import prices. I can totally understand with Another Century's Episode R, but Neo Geo Heroes is something I totally expected to localize. I mean, come on, SNK localized the World Heroes and Art Of Fighting collections. If you don't mind, any chance you could post the list of the other Japanese games you're interested in, but didn't have time to write about?

  11. I guess you WILL be the only one on that hill, because even Japan is beginning to realize they too are in a rut of games. Just because something is foreign doesn't mean it's better, and just because something is "OMGU ZANY MADCAP NIHON" doesn't mean it's brand new and pushing the envelope.

    If you could cool your jets on the Super Japan Mecha Defense Force fantasy and I dunno, BE AN ACTUAL OBJECTIVE GAMES JOURNALIST LIKE YOU CLAIM TO BE FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE maybe you would see that half the games you listed have been done before without the overly Japanese asthetic.

    Seriously, read those last three paragraphs and try not to crack up, and then cry because you actually posted that on the Internet for people to read. "Japan Ho!"? Yes, yes you are.

    And btw, this is coming from someone who HATES, LOATHES AND DESPISES American games. The simple fact of the matter is that people like YOU who claim to be "otaku" are scaring Americans away from accepting these games, because nobody wants to be like you. In fact if you go to Japan right now, you'll be called a "gaijin otaku" alright, and not in the sense that you seem to wear with pride.

    If this seems bitter, that's due to EXTREME disappointment. HG101 used to be awesome and not full of this Japan > USA elitism and this "if you don't appreciate some vaguely intellectual aspect of a trivial videogame then you are an uneducated backwater hick who isn't fit for the NES" attitude. DiscoAlucard doesn't post like that, why should you?

    I partially blame myself for this, I kinda encouraged this Japan-centric obsession by commenting on all of dai ja bou's recent posts but truth be told it was because I felt sorry for her since she only seemed to receive like 1 or 2 comments every four posts. Had I known it would come to this I'd have silenced my sympathy posts early on.

    HG101 used to be good, and it can still be good, but not unless you check yourself before you violently wreck yourself.

    Japan isn't the almighty supernation you make it out to be. They have bland uninspired games too. Don't let the candy coating distract you.

    BTW if this comment DOESN'T get approved and at least receive a halfway decent rebuttal, then I will consider it your full admittance to the grievances I have addressed, and will cease to read this blog. Plus, I've managed to not use the word "weeaboo" in connection with you until now so you could at least humor me. Peace.

  12. I only spent an hour or so with Neo Geo Battle Heroes, but I honestly wasn't all that impressed. Lots of content, which is good, but the actual shooting, unless I'm missing something, is pretty banal.

    Ys vs Sora no Kiseki just came out last week and I'm not all that impressed with it either. I guess I could write more about it in time, but it's like they took the Ys 7 engine and turned it into an arena fighting game which is...weird.

  13. @Zack
    I think the point was that as westerners, it would be interesting to see the interesting japanese games that get zero coverage nowadays since the press seems to believe that japanese games are shit in comparison to western ones now (this has to do with the "decline" of jrpg's, cause as every major publication knows, that is the only japanese type of game that matters *rolls eyes*).

    But japan still makes plenty of interesting games that get zero coverage. This is a crying shame, and the reason for this to be important. This isn't about Japan being superior to the west (each side holds perfect dominion over certain genres) but about getting better knowledge of what niche games might be interesting to look into.
    If I'd only read the magazines I wouldn't be looking forward to a PS3 version of Arcana Heart 3 (though honestly, I didn't exactly read about that here)

    Niche games are WHAT THIS SITE IS ABOUT! Or am I wrong?
    This is what I come to here for, to see both old and new games wich might have missed the radar of the major publications and seem worth playing, like the Boku no Natsuyasumi games.

    If almost all the games covered would be japanese, then that would be okay if I otherwise wouldn't have heard about them, since we have other sites for all those other games. And this should be okay, shouldn't it Zack?
    I mean, we should really have a few good places on the net where we can find actual information and news about these games, right?

  14. @ GhaleonQ and others:
    I should subscribe to some Japanese mags, that’s an excellent point. Sadly Famitsu is weekly, and the only place I found that would do a subscription, demanded I take the entire yearly sub, which is like hundreds and hundreds of dollars. I guess I should buy monthly issues on occasion.


    Yes! Funeki no Phantasia is something I’ve been keeping an eye on. Apparently you can set how long you want your RPG to be, whether 5 minutes or 50 hours, and the game will function like that, with a story length to suit. I can’t imagine it working in practice, but I love the concept.

    It was mentioned in WAHP hence why I never covered it here. The above entry was actually the result of me not having gotten any Japanese coverage in a while, so I went digging on PSN, Play-Asia and a few forums, found some cool things, started some topics on them, and realised: hey, there’s a cohesive line of thought here, let’s put it together with some commentary.

    As for other Japanese games I’m interested in, a lot of them are quite old now. I still want to play/write about Tori no Hoshi (PS2), since no one has written about it, and it seems to be Aquanauts Holiday set in the sky, where you investigate the behavioural patterns of birds.

    I still have on my shelf the UMD for that shadow ninjas game published by FROM SOFTWARE, which I’ve only half finished.

    Also on PSP is Disaster Report 3, which came over a year ago on PSP, and the demo totally rocked. It’ll never get a western release, but one of these days I’m going to write about it. I wonder if the fan-translation community has considered translating it?

    Then there’s Bakugan Battle Crawlers: Defenders of the Core (PS3/X360), which despite the awful anime licence, the gameplay looks interesting in screenshots, and it has a nice cel-shaded effect.

    There’s Tomenasanner (Capcom) on Wii, which I haven’t even looked up in months, but featured dancing pandas.

    There’s a whole bunch of PS3 junk on my “if I ever win the lottery” list, new and old, most of it probably unplayable: Mist of Chaos, Tears to Tiara, Wangan Midnight, Imabikiso (visual novel), 428 (FMV murder mystery), Sengoku Basara 3, White Album: Tsuzurareru Fuyu no Omoide, Megazone 23: Aoi Garland.

    I don’t own a 360, but I’ve got a list a mile long of stuff I want to own. The first being the Senko no Ronde games, which are stupidly awesome, especially if you love 2D shooters. Next would be Steins;Gate and
    Taisen Ryoku Delux (hex based strategy with anthropmorphised girl/planes).

  15. @Zack:
    Wow, my intention certainly hadn’t been to annoy one of our regulars. And I should add, my actions, blog posts of HG101 articles should never be seen as representative of HG101 as a whole, which has several staff. And I’m no longer an “OBJECTIVE GAMES JOURNALIST” since I haven’t been paid for writing about games since... last year I think. All my games writing now is for my own amusement and as such is devoid of any kind of professionalism. Jus’ sayin’.

    To offer explanation, since you request it:
    I’ll concur those aren’t the best games Japan has to offer right now, but they were in my line of thought at that given time. I even admit that I hated Darius Burst. It really was a waste of money. Were this a full-time job, I’d probably make a new post each day with a long list of games, both good and bad, with a calm and intelligent insight. If I ran a magazine I’d intend to cover every Japanese release in-depth.

    The message was genuine, my method of delivery exaggerated due to frustration and annoyance with the world at large.

    This is NOT to say I was trying to be satirical, or using a kind of “so-to-the-left-I’m-actually-to-the-right” kind of post-modern hipster bullshit logic. To say I wrote the above to be “alternate” would be disingenuous to the message – I still think Japan is really cool.

    The “Japan Ho!” catchphrase is actually from the Recettear game, since the shop owner shouts “Capitalism Ho!” despite being incapable of grasping even the basic tenets of capitalism. Which I guess was actually an attempt at satire – it certainly made me chuckle. But anyway...

    My frustration is that the mainstream media no longer cares about Japan, even when she does produce great games. The success of Demon’s Souls was a wonderful and bizarre blip on the gaming radar - and something which, it’s sad to say, came about despite the wishes of Sony who didn’t want to publish it in the west. As some people have said, Japan has lost confidence in herself in the west, and the west in turn mostly ignores what she does, even when it’s good.

    Furthermore, people who still like Japanese games have infuriating derogatory words thrown at them, like weaboo, which I detest. As an Englishman I turn off all restraints and write about Japan in an over-zealous fashion because not only do few others write about her at all, but those that do are sometimes criticised or ridiculed, and my exaggerated presentation is in truth a form of over-compensation to mask my own perceived lack of insight into this world. So much of my information these past few months came from WAHP and a few forums, that when my sources dried up and I had to dig deep for information, I needed to feel vindicated that I was getting as much knowledge as I could. I actually hate starting topics on newly discovered games, since I live under the assumption that others are more clued in to the Japanese scene than me, and for me to discover something first means the chain of information is seriously screwed up somewhere.

    My games collection is closer to half-and-half in terms of East/West ratio, my favourite 16-bit RPG is Shadowrun on the SNES, which is Australian developed, and my all-time favourite game, for nostalgic purposes is Star Control 2. I love old westerns and could write a lengthy feature on why some games which use the setting get it so wrong, and others get it so right. But I’m not going to because mainstream coverage on American and European games and thinking is already well covered. I concentrate on Japan because it’s under-represented. And unfairly so.

  16. It infuriates me to see the negativity directed towards Japan and those who still love Japan. I studied Japanese. I know other guys who studied Japanese and now live in Japan. I used to read import-focused mags like SuperPlay. To me all of this still means something, and so like any maligned, minority social sub-culture, when I see people act negatively or in a derogatory fashion, I dig my heels in and defend the side unquestioningly. Because, you know, I still think being hardcore into Japanese gaming is cool. And very few seem to be putting up the good fight. So the more I think about it, the more determined I am to shout louder and make up for those who aren’t shouting. Even if it makes me appear a little insane – because this is a blog, the internet, and I’m cool with being branded the eccentric zealot on the hill.

    Call it a warped sense of over-compensatory nerd pride - rally against me and you only reinforce my portrayed norms and values. Defiant stoicism is an inherent trait of mine.

    To give you an analogy: when I was a boy my parents made me weed their small vegetable patch in the garden as part of chores. And it required weeding every week (almost every day) because grasses would shoot up between the vegetables. No matter how fervently I weeded I couldn’t stem the tide for long and in a short time there were waves of weeds choking everything. And it got really tricky when weeds were intertwined with the tomatoes and gherkins. So one Saturday, seeing the tide of weeds and gripped by a frenzy, I took out our lawnmower and levelled the entire vegetable patch – kicking up sods of dirt and shouting NOW WHOSE THE WEEDMASTER MOTHER****ERS?! I was yelled at for a bit, but my parents then thought my energies were actually better used elsewhere, so I helped my dad chop wood for our fire. It’s a bull in the China shop mentality I sometimes have. But this BE ATTITUDE FOR GAINS approach landed me the highest grades in high school, got me some great features in commercial magazines, and on occasion really pays off for itself. It also brought my editors on magazines close to tears, and I’m sure it frustrates Kurt a lot. But sometimes even today I really feel the urge to bring out that lawnmower.

  17. I listen to the WAHP podcast and think: these guys are so damned cool, with genuine insight and intelligence into this scene. And they have knowledge, and skill, and determination and bank-accounts which I can never hope to match. But they are the sculpted idols which sit at the shrine I’ve decided to defend.

    I read entries by archivists on Japanese computers and think: these guys are true historians, poking around with archaic 30-year-old hardware, and are so awesome because of it. They’re documenting an uncharted historical frontier.

    I’ve been listening to connoisseurs in the field discuss eroge and I think: wow, some of these games actually have genuine merit to them. And you know what? A serious, intelligently written investigation of eroge would prove quite enlightening.

    I see myself as something of an everyman who, dissatisfied with the dwindling interest in something I still have a passion for (Japan), dons this exaggerated persona and fights unquestioningly, in-spite of the criticism, because I need to feel that that someone is doing it. I’ve read my last three paragraphs and, without a hint of remorse, I think to myself: hell yeah. I’d post that again. When people complain, it makes me want to try even harder.

    If we had mainstream Japanese coverage like we did in SuperPlay in 1993, or GameFAN, or even PLAY, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to blog. There was a brief time, around the PS2 era, early PS3 era, which to me felt like Japan had become demystified because of good import coverage, more foreign releases, and general knowledge and acceptance. With this perceived “fall of Japan”, her creations are again being shrouded from view, and this descent into a misty, murky lake of forgotten knowledge freaks me out.

    Maybe I just need to visit more Japanese-focused websites (in English) to get my kicks. Who do you recommend? So many places are now defunct. There’s NTSC-uk, but they’ve gone mainstream. InsertCredit is dead. Our own beloved HG101 is, broadly speaking, an older-game focused website. I went through the magweasel blog yesterday, and some of the PC-Engine coverage on there is incredible (and very sensibly written). If you want sensible, you probably won’t always get it from me (sometimes, maybe).

    List some decent websites and I shall expunge my passions through reading them and not writing on this blog.

    Japan Ho!


    Turns out Tomena Sanner came out over 6 months ago and I missed it - which just highlights my point. I have to really dig to find out info, or I have to trawl like 30 websites regularly, to get my fix which, in my view, used to be satiated by just a couple of magazines and websites a few years ago.

    Is there even a definitive source for Japanese games in English these days?

  19. That was an honestly good rebuttal.

  20. Siliconera and Andriasang are the only sites I know of that cover import stuff. If you want deeper stuff you either need to start browsing NeoGAF or specialist websites.

    You shouldn't HAVE to resort to browsing forums to get information some of this stuff, though, which is why I agree that coverage is sorely lacking. The Last Ranker sounds like a vaguely interesting PSP RPG from Capcom, but I only know anything about it from NeoGAF, and I just don't have the time these days to play it/cover it myself.

  21. Tomena Sanner? That game is crazy, but you probs missed it mainly because it's wiiware, not because it's so weird (it actually appears on one of the wiiware movie update things on the nintendo channel thing)

    wiiware has gotten quite a few odd japanese games and most of them have appeared over here (though some have not which sucks). poles adventure never come out here mainly due to the crazyness that may not translate well.

    all those great japanese/forign games that never get ported only support the whole 'piracy' scene. why import when you can download, with a fanmade patch to boot.

  22. There's always postback if you can read spanish. Excellent, though rarely written reviews, but the forum covers a lot. Just be sure to reference them if you get any of your information from there, as they deserve more traffic.

  23. I signed up to NeoGaf with a professional email address and they perma-banned my account before even approving it. At the time I assumed this was because I used my real name and there had been some rather public feuding between me and Frank Cifaldi, and so if they were fans of industry-insider Frank they might have a grudge against me.

    I don't know if I have the energy to attempt their sign-up hurdles again. They don't seem keen on having new members.

    As for Postback, I liked it until the guy in charge of the website said the world would be better off if I stopped writing articles. Yeah, I no longer have anything polite to say about the man or his site.

    Ho hum...

  24. Thanks for the lengthy response, Sketcz. I'm sure your passion draws exponentially more readers than it alienates, to be fair!

  25. I think these games just don't deserve much coverage outside of Japan, really. These are the equivalents of Madden and licensed junk.

    The PS2 ACE games were lousy, Darius Burst is a disappointing and easy shooter with ugly graphics, the first KOF shooter looks and feels like it was made years ago, and Power Pro is the latest $70 yearly update of this series (btw the Pro Yakyuu game with its sweaty uncanny valley guys is an amazing looking baseball game with a truly innovative batting interface).

    The only game on this list that is not a cynical cashin is the Neptune game, and as everyone has mentioned the developer has a track record of releasing terrible games.

    There are some great games being released in Japan, but they are all getting coverage- Sengoku Basara 3 and Metal Max 3 just came out recently for example and there is every indication that both games are excellent.