Archive for 2011

Japan Import: Metal Gear Solid 3DS bundle confirmed for 2012

December 30, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Japan Import: Metal Gear Solid 3DS bundle confirmed for 2012

Well here’s a surprise, there’s going to be a Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D bundle. Not in North America, of course. No, third party games never get special bundles here. This bundle is going to be a Japan exclusive, released on March 8, 2012.

As for details, who knows. All that has been revealed is that the Metal Gear Solid 3DS will be a thing. Kojima Productions, the developer, has been saying on its twitter account that the bundle will be available alongside the standard game release, in case someone still hasn’t jumped onboard the 3DS bandwagon, but hopes to soon. However, Kojima Productions only said that it is coming, and didn’t have any images of the bundle itself or a price point.

The Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D bundle will be the third Japan-exclusive 3DS. Previously, Monster Hunter 3G and SD Gundam G Generation 3D bundles with custom 3DS units were released. While nothing has been said yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kingdom Hearts 3D ended up being the fourth custom bundle. There are almost always special hardware bundles when it comes to Japanese Kingdom Hearts releases!

If you want a second 3DS from Japan so you can play all those Japanese games that region-locking has denied you, this may be a 3DS bundle to keep in mind. It will probably be something unique, and odds are we’d never see it released in North America. Just remember that you’ll have to pay more than usual because it is an imported product – probably around or over $229, which is what Play-Asia is charging for an ordinary Japanese 3DS.

Read [Kojima Productions on Twitter (Japanese)] Via [Andriasang]

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Nintendo and Tecmo Koei team up for Pokémon + Nobunaga’s Ambition

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Nintendo and Tecmo Koei team up for Pokémon + Nobunaga’s Ambition

Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition
Gotta catch ‘em all! And in Pokémon + Nobunaga’s Ambition, that means using the pokemon and warlord teams to conquer every region in the game. Did that confuse you? I thought it might.

The mystery Pokémon game that Nintendo was rumored to be working on is actually a collaboration with Tecmo Koei. So Pokémon is going to be mashed up with the Nobunaga’s Ambition strategic simulation. It sounds crazy, I know, but here’s how it will work. It will be a strategic simulation, just like the other Nobunaga’s Ambition games and be loosely based on Nobunaga’s goal of unifying Japan. As a twist, each warrior in the game will be bonded with a pokémon, and it seems like pokémon will be crucial in the fights to reclaim areas and unify the country. If you’ve played a Samurai Warriors game, then you’ll likely recognize some of the characters.

An initial trailer was also released, so you can see these daimyo and samurai frolicking with various pokémon.

Now for the weirdest part, as if this whole post doesn’t seem like some strange trolling attempt by Nintendo. Pokémon + Nobunaga’s Ambition is going to be a DS game. Not a 3DS game, which would have made a lot more sense. It will be released in 2012. No word yet if there’ll be a North American release, but since it is a pokemon game, that seems likely.

Such a combination isn’t too unbelievable. I mean, Tecmo Koei and Nintendo are working together to make that Fatal Frame 2 Wii remake a reality. I guess we just couldn’t comprehend a combination like Pokémon + Nobunaga’s Ambition.

Image Source: 4Gamer

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Important Importables Review: Bleach Heat the Soul 7

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Bleach Heat the Soul 7

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Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 PSP

Title: Bleach: Heat the Soul 7
Price: ~$60
System(s): PSP
Release Date: September 2, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Sony Computer Entertainment (8ing)
ESRB Rating: N/A, Cero A for All Ages
Pros: 84 different characters in the game and many are new to the Heat the Soul series, you can now fight giant characters, you can now take part in versus battles with four characters, you can trigger Tag Special attacks, can have single or tag team battles, there are multiple difficulty options and Soul Codes can improve characters/ Can unlock characters, Soul Codes, character art and voices. There are Story Mode, Hueco Mundo Conquest, Arcade Style, VS CPU, Soul VS and Training game modes. You can upload your Arcade Mode ranking to the website. Covers the Hueco Mundo, Zanpakuto and Karakura Town rescue storylines.
Cons: Not very many updates or improvements compared to Heat the Soul 6, only local multiplayer. You have to get certain rankings on certain chapters to unlock extra Story Mode levels.
Overall Score: 7/10

We see Namco Bandai bringing us new Naruto PSP games all the time, but have yet to see a Bleach: Heat the Soul game appear overseas. Somehow, it doesn’t seem fair. Thankfully, the PSP is region-free and fighting games transcend language, which means its fairly easy for people to import and enjoy a game like Bleach: Heat the Soul 7. However, while it is a good fighting game that is visually impressive, represents the Bleach series well and is fun to play, it doesn’t make the same strides forward as previous Heat the Soul entries. The result is a game that, while good, is okay to pass over if you’ve already purchased or played Heat the Soul 5 or 6.

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 PSP

Finishing up business in Hueco Mundo, then heading off to save Karakura Town

Unlike some prior Bleach: Heat the Soul games, Heat the Soul 7 doesn’t attempt to cover the entire Bleach saga. In fact, it has one of the shortest story modes in the Heat the Soul series. It starts by covering the very end of Arrancar vs. Shinigama arc, where the fighting in Hueco Mundo ends. It then covers the entire Arrancar: Decisive Battle of Karakura Town arc and has one brief segment that covers the anime-only Zanpakutou Rebellion arc.

So in short, here’s what happens. Ichigo, his friends and a number of high ranking Soul Reapers went into Hueco Mundo, both to face Aizen and his Arrancar and Espada minions and rescue Orihime, who was taken hostage by Aizen. While the Soul Reaper Captains and Ichigo did manage to deal with some of the Espada, Aizen and some of his top ranking Espada followers took the fight to Karakura Town to destroy it. Everyone follows and, once Ichigo and his cohorts reach Karakura Town, they’re joined by the Vizards, Soul Reapers who went through the hollowfication process, who also want to help save the town. There is also a complementary story mode called Hueco Mundo Conquest which goes through pretty much the same story, only with a different viewpoint.

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 PSP

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 enjoyment levels rise and fall depending on how familiar you are with the series.

As with all Bleach: Heat the Soul games, Heat the Soul 7 is a 3D, cel-shaded fighter. You control one or two of the 84 characters in either a single, team or tag team battle. Of course, saying 84 is actually a bit generous, since a few of the characters are actually different versions of the same character. But still, it sounds impressive and it’d be a pain to go through that many characters, so let’s leave it as is. You can use various characters’ spirit pressure to unleash special moves. It isn’t terribly difficult to play or use combos, and anyone familiar with Street Fighter, Tekken and Naruto style fighting games should have no trouble jumping in and easily adapting to Heat the Soul 7.

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 also offers a number of different battle options. As I mentioned, there is the standard one on one battle. You can also take part in tag team battles, where you pick two characters and either face off against one enemy or two enemies, switching between the two when necessary. Heat the Soul 7 also introduces battle royales to the series. In these, four characters fight at once, and are either divided into teams or take part in a free-for-all battle. It works really well, however the battles can tend to drag on a bit as the AI characters seem to be stronger than usual.

Another bonus is that there are a number of different game modes to choose from. Story and Hueco Mundo Conquest are both rather basic story modes. You go through scripted fights from the Bleach manga and anime series. Both are rather short, which is a bit of a letdown. What helps with that are the Arcade Style and VS CPU modes, which allow players to just take part in standard one on one, two on two or four character battles. If you can manage to find a friend nearby who also owns Heat the Soul 7, there is also ad-hoc multiplayer. A training mode is available to test out characters and perfect moves. However, most of these modes aren’t very substantial. You can easily clear both the story modes within a few hours and, while unlocking does provide some motivation to return to Heat the Soul 7, it doesn’t seem to provide the same incentive as earlier entries.

The biggest downside to Heat the Soul 7 is its remarkable similarity to Heat the Soul 6. While I didn’t purchase that particular entry, a friend did and so I had the opportunity to play both games. Aside from a few cosmetic changes and additional features, Heat the Soul 7 is essentially Heat the Soul 6. Even the menus and layout look practically identical. Yes, there were a few additions mentioned above, but for the most part all the returning characters look and play the same and the various gameplay modes are similar as well. Which means that Heat the Soul 7 is rather underwhelming if you’ve kept up with the series. If you haven’t, you’ll probably be fine. Before I borrowed my friend’s copy of Heat the Soul 6, I was enamored with Heat the Soul 7 because the only other entry in the series I had owned prior to that was the first.

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 PSP

If character selection, minor adjustments and gameplay modes matter to you, this is your game.

As anyone who’s played more than one Bleach: Heat the Soul game has gathered, each entry is typically only slightly different than the one before. Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 is no exception. It’s a great game, but it makes only minimal improvements and upgrades over its previous entries. Granted, if you compare it to Heat the Soul 5 or one of the other earlier games, it’s great. But compared to Heat the Soul 6 not much has really changed. The character roster is slightly larger, you can encounter giant enemies, there are more tag team options and the four player battles are nice, but that’s pretty much it. Still, if you are looking for a Bleach PSP fighting game and have never purchased one before, Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 is the one you want to get. If you have Bleach: Heat the Soul 6 already, then you don’t need to upgrade.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports talks about the Phantasy Star series.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports was all about the Fate/ series.

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Popularity: 6% [?]

Important Importables: Fate/stay night and its offshoots

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: Fate/stay night and its offshoots

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With visual novels suddenly starting to appear more often outside of Japan and Aksys’ latest risk undertaking the translation and localization of Fate/Extra, it seems like a good time to look at one of the best known and most popular visual novels out there, Type-Moon’s Fate/stay night. This first commercial already famous doujin creators of Tsukihime managed to be such a success, despite its original release as an adult bishojo game, that it ended up crossing over and becoming an all-ages hit, as well as inspiring a manga, anime, light novels and additional games.

Fate Stay Night Best Version PS2

The original Fate/stay night

Fate/stay night (Windows) and its all-ages counterpart Fate/stay night [Realta Nua] (PS2) both center around a futuristic quest for the Holy Grail. Every sixty years, seven Magi Masters fight with summoned Servants against one another, with the winner getting the Holy Grail and the opportunity to have a wish come true. Oddly enough, the fifth Holy Grail War has begun only ten years after the fourth one.

Not only that, but it features an unlikely participant. A young man named Shiro Emiya wanted to become a Hero of Justice and a Magus, but has no talent for magic. Despite that, he ends up stumbling upon two Servants, Archer and Lancer, and is nearly killed by Lancer. A classmate and associate named Rin Tosaka heals Shiro. Somehow, this seems to have an additional effect on him as later when Lancer comes to kill him again, Shiro is able to use magic to defend himself and ends up somehow summoning the Servant Saber to his side to assist him.

From there, players make choices to determine what happens to Shiro. Depending on choices made, Shiro may or may not survive the war and may end up even finding love with one of the female characters. In addition, information about the war and Holy Grail could be discovered and players see a storyline that looks at how people see and deal with oneself. There are actually three plots that can be followed, which means people will need to play at least three times to understand the whole story.

No official translation of Fate/stay night has ever been released. However, the fan translation group Mirror Mirror has completely translated the Windows PC version of the game. Keep in mind that this translation does require you to purchase a copy of the full version of Fate/stay night. An all-ages, PC version of the game was never released, so keep in mind that if you do set everything up to play it in English, you will be playing a game with adult content.

In addition to the main game, multiple aforementioned spinoffs have appeared. A Fate/stay night manga was released both in Japan and North America, as well as an anime of the same name that appeared in Japan, North America and Europe. A Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works animated movie was also released in Japan, as was a Fate/Zero series of novels. So people had plenty of opportunity to hear and see the story, even if they don’t enjoy visual novels.

Fate/Extra for PSP

Fate/ Offshoots

Additional entries in the Fate/ series tend to fall into one of two categories. They’re either visual novel style games, like the original Fate/stay night, or they’re fighting games. The one thing they have in common, oddly enough, is that they have a better chance of being localized and released outside of Japan than the original Fate/stay Night. Yes, while there still isn’t an official Fate/stay night release, there are actually two entries released in English for people to buy.

I’m talking, of course, about two of the PSP games. One is Fate/Unlimited Codes, which was also released on the PS2. It’s a standard, 3D fighting game featuring some of the Servants and Masters from the original game. Capcom created it and released it as a PlayStation Store exclusive in North America. It’s nothing astonishing, but it is pretty good fighter. The other is Fate/extra from Aksys, an original visual novel and RPG inspired by Fate/stay Night that features a few familiar Masters and Servants, but a all new storyline that makes it easy for newcomers to get into the series. I prefer Fate/extra myself, but both are pretty good games.

Then, there are the games that didn’t make it outside of Japan. Here’s what you can look for, if you’re a huge Type-Moon fan.

  • Fate/extra CCC (PSP): This is an updated version of Fate/Extra due out in Japan next year with new storylines and extra content.
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia (Windows): A direct sequel to Fate/stay night. It’s only available in an adults-only version for Windows PCs and is a visual novel just like the previous game.
  • Fate/tiger colosseum (PSP): A 3D fighting game with chibi-fied versions of the main characters. It’s region-free and very import-friendly.
  • Fate/tiger colosseum upper (PSP): Again, a direct sequel to the previous game with more characters and environments.
  • Nendoroid Generation (PSP): No, this isn’t a Fate/ game, but this RPG and mini-game collection will have Saber, Rider and Rin Tosaka Nendoroids appearing in it.
  • COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports reviews Bleach: Heat the Soul 7.

    IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports played Hatoful Boyfriend.

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Japan Import: One Piece PS3 is an anime fan’s dream

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Japan Import: One Piece PS3 is an anime fan’s dream

One Piece Luffy Gold PS3It’s a known fact that Japan always gets the coolest PS3s. North America gets the plain and bland ones, while Japan gets different colors and designs. The latest system is something that will particularly interest anime fans. See, One Piece: Pirate Musou is coming out in Japan on March 1, 2011 and it’s the first time a game based on that particular anime/manga is coming to the system. To honor that fact, Namco Bandai and Sony are releasing the PS3 One Piece: Pirate Musou Gold Edition.

The Gold part comes from the fact that it includes a gorgeous, 320gb, gold PS3 and Dualshock 3 controller. It includes a copy of One Piece: Pirate Musou as well. As you can see from the image, the PS3 is entirely gold, with a map etching, One Piece logo and picture of Luffy on the top. The luffy etching also has a red highlight of his X scar across his chest. It’s a gorgeous bundle and region-free, meaning you could play any PS3 game on it from any region. However, it would only be able to play Japanese Blu-rays, DVDs and PS1 games.

It’s appropriate that it’s gold, because it’s also ridiculously expensive. It’s ¥38,170, which means it’d be around $490 if you decided to import it. Blame the conversion rates for the price. Even a standard edition of One Piece: Pirate Musou is ridiculously priced now, as it would cost ¥8,190 (~$105).

As for the game itself, One Piece: Pirate Musou is essentially Dynasty Warriors: One Piece. While some stages are similar to platformers, for the most part people will pick One Piece pirates and help them battle through hoards of enemies while completing objectives in certain areas.

Read [Andriasang]

Popularity: 9% [?]

Important Importables Review: Hatoful Boyfriend for Windows, Mac

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Hatoful Boyfriend for Windows, Mac

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Hatoful Boyfriend

Title: Hatoful Boyfriend
Price: Free, a paid version is available in Japan for ¥500 and is twice as long with an extra character and lots of extra content
System(s): Windows XP or better and Mac 10.1-10.6
Release Date: August 6, 2011
Publisher (Developer): PigioNation Inc. (PigioNation Inc.)
ESRB Rating: N/A. I’d say at least 16 and up, because of Shu Iwamine’s route.
Pros: An English patch is available here, you can have human portraits for bird characters show up on the intro screen (But why would you want that?), you have to manage stats to earn the affection of certain guys, the story and dialogue is absolutely ridiculous and hilarious and there are ginormous pictures of birds used as character portraits! Also, there are 8 endings and a skip function. You can unlock an additional route after playing through once.
Cons: YOUR CHARACTER IS A HUMAN GIRL WHO’S DATING BIRDS. (BIRDS!) Oh, and the skip function is too fast making it easy to skip over both seen and unseen text at the speed of sound. Music is generic. It’s rather short. Nageki’s route is a bit slow and boring, compared to the others.
Overall Score: 9/10.

So, Hatoful Boyfriend. Yeah. Way to go proving those Japanese gaming stereotypes right Japan!

Here, I’ll translate the title. That should be enough to give you an idea of the crack-tacular adventure you’re going to embark upon if you play this free, recently translated into English, dating sim. Hato means pigeon. Hatoful is a combination of “Hato” and “Beautiful”. So basically it’s Pigeon-Beautiful Boyfriend.

Did I just blow your mind? I knew I would.

Don’t get me wrong though. If you go into Hatoful Boyfriend with the right mindset – preferably suffering from some kind of cold-flu and doped up on Nyquil and Robotussin – you can enjoy a gaming experience of epic proportions. It’s an absolutely ridiculous and outrageous adventure, made even better by a English translation that isn’t afraid to proudly flaunt how messed up this game is.

It’s so ridiculous, you will have to play it at least eight times so you can acquire every ending. Maybe even more, since your brain will go numb in some endings due to the inexplicable twists and turns, requiring a second run-through to appreciate the hilarity of the situation.

Hatoful Boyfriend

Welcome to St. Pigeonation’s Institute, every girl’s dream school!

So here’s the deal. For some unknown reason, Hatoful Boyfriend‘s heroine decided to attend a school for birds called St. Pigeonation’s Institute. Yes, she’s a human being. A somewhat ordinary girl named Hiyoko Tousaka. (You can change the name to whatever you’d like, as usual.) She’s a sophmore who’s starting her second year at this most unusual school.

Of course, Hiyoko probably wasn’t too ordinary in the first place. Because, you know, she lives in a cave on a cliff.

Back to the story! This year, school’s going to be more special for Hiyoko. Because this year, she may just find a birdie-boyfriend! Huzzah! There are seven to choose from: Ryouta Kawari the rock dove, Kazuaki Nanaki the quail, Sakuya Le Bel Shirogane the fantail, Nageki Fujishiro the mourning dove, Yuuya Sakazaki the fantail pigeon, Shu Iwamine the partridge and San Oko the fantail pigeon. Yes, there are seven elligible bachelors.

As far as gameplay, it’s a standard otome visual novel with some mild life-sim elements. You do have to take certain classes and participate in select activities to boost Tousaka’s stats so she can end up getting a good ending with one of the seven dateable birds. There will also be instances where Tousaka will have to respond to questions from certain birds or decide on what she wants to do for the day, which could bring her closer to a happy ending. Of course, how happy can said ending be when you’re trapped with a talking bird for the rest of your life? Nevermind. Let’s not dwell on that.

Oh yes. There are also optional human portraits for each character. I have no idea why. Maybe the human portrait on the splash image is supposed to show what the bird’s soul would look like? It’s confusing. As I mentioned earlier though, who in their right mind would want to enable those pictures? I mean, with a game like Hatoful Boyfriend, you’re coming for the pigeons!

Hatoful Boyfriend

Critiquing? We don’t need no stinking critiquing!

In a typical review, this is the part where I’d say what was incredibly awesome or unbelievably horrible about the game. However, this is Hatoful Boyfriend we’re talking about. I think you already have some idea of the good and bad from the outset. So instead, we’re going to go through the various topics that flew through my stuffed up and sniffling head as I played. I’m typing these up during my Shu and Yuuya playthroughs, so forgive me if they come across as disjointed.

  • The first thing that came to mind is, are we dealing with gigantic, mutant birds? Because everything in the school is human-sized and you’d think a school geared towards birds would be more accomodating towards them. Especially since the heroine is supposed to be the only human there. So could these be some kind of freakish birds that are the size of human beings and attending this school to prepare for world domination? Or are they normal-sized, super intelligent birds who have learned how to use the standardized equipment? I don’t know which idea is worse! I’m leaning towards human sized, simply because the character picture for each bird is freakishly huge. Plus, it’s more amusing that way. Plus, that way I can imagine the bird Hiyoko ends up with carrying her away in his talons as they fly off into the sunset.
  • Then there’s the sports festival. Now, this is a school for birds. Birds, mind you. And yet, every single sporting event involves not flying. In fact, one of the most publicized events is the three-legged race. Now, I can understand bird cheerleading. That even made me chuckle at the thought. (Especially since it was the pretentious, stuck up fantail who chooses to be a cheerleader!). But seriously. Birds participating in a three-legged race? All I can conjure up is a mental picture of two birds tied together, floundering on the ground and spinning in circles because they can’t stand up. Okay, maybe the ¥500 paid version would be worth it if there was a CG image of that event. Yuuya also says they have an obstacle course event, which seems like it’d be cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Kazuaki got me thinking what life would be like for a narcoleptic bird. You know, if there were such a thing. Which there probably is. Anyways, it’s got to be ridiculously dangerous. Especially if it happened while flying. Maybe that’s the secret reason why some birds get sucked into airplane engines. The more you know…
  • Why does Hiyoko live on a cliff? I think she was secretly raised by birds, explaining why she’s so happy to attend a bird school and is okay with dating avian creatures. Because if you spend 14 to 15 years of your life living alone, outdoors, I’d imagine birds may start looking pretty good.
  • Doctor Iwamine comes across as quite the bloodthirsty bird, which makes you wonder how he would actually manage it. You know, the cutting off of limbs, disposing of bodies and such. His beak doesn’t look all that sharp and I’d think it’d be quite difficult to manage a scalpel or saw with talons. Besides, he doesn’t look like an especially large partridge, which would cause some trouble as well. I suppose he could just have a twisted sense of humor. It’s hard to tell with birds though! They have the ultimate poker face.
  • The school festival puts the birds in costumes. Maid costumes. And not photoshopped costumes either. The artist just drew maid outfits on top of the pigeon. That is just classy right there. What other game, do you know of, includes pigeon maids? And Animal Crossing doesn’t count, because Brewster is a barista! Of course, this event image is made even more special because the pigeon in question is actually a male, so it also involves cross-dressing. Headline! “Japan’s major contribution to gaming in 2011 was a pigeon in drag!”
  • This chick considers herself ordinary, and yet she lives in a cave. A cliff-side cave. With a visible fire as the only furniture. Plus, she considers this kind of dwelling not only acceptable, but glorious. Even the birds think it’s weird! Oh, but it can’t be that bad because this cave apparently has a door.
  • Oh yes, and the school’s cafeteria serves poultry. If we saw a hawk, eagle or vulture at any time, I’d consider this no big deal. But all we see are pigeons, a partridge and a quail. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen any of those birds snacking on their own kind.
  • When it’s convenient and suits the story, the birds have hands. It’s magic!
  • And then there’s the route that’s only unlocked after playing through the game once. This route is the craziest, most outrageous, ridiculous and weirdest thing. I couldn’t even imagine a visual novel or game ever including a route like this. Part of me wants to say that’s a bad thing, but another part is thinking back to how many I was laughing while playing through Hatoful Boyfriend and thinking that it can only be good. The worst thing about this additional, insane route is that it ends on a cliffhanger that can only be resolved in the full version of the game. (Which looks more and more attractive, each time you play.)

Hatoful Boyfriend

Time for famous bird quotes!

Hatoful Boyfriend is ridiculous and the script clearly reflects that. So to help drive the point home, here are some out of context, ridiculous quotes taken directly from the game. If these don’t make you curious enough to try playing, nothing will!

  • Hiyoko: “But we can’t just let him break the rules like that, sir! The system will collapse and we’ll all turn into kulaks and dissenters!”
  • San: “This is no pudding for a man! Okosan rejects it! It is a lie! A vicious falsification!”
  • “Okosan used WING ATTACK! It’s super effective!”
  • Hiyoko: “Nepotism, ho! Don’t we get a vote!?”
  • Yuuya: “Mystery is the most powerful of aphrodisiacs.”
  • Kazuaki: “Not too… mmm… nope, sorry. You did badly.”
  • Hiyoko: “Doves smell kind of funny when it gets humid like this…”
  • Shuu: “You’re even stranger than I had thought. I’m fascinated. How I’d love to expirement (sic) on you…”
  • Ryouta: “Yeah. Well… there’s one that says that sometimes students will disappear in the infirmary only to show up again as food in the dining hall and quill pens in the school store.”
  • Shuu: “Very well, I will accompany you. In exchange for your left arm, of course.”
  • Hiyoko: “Yup, he’s a pervert. Yippee.”
  • Hiyoko: “… forgive me, sir, but I need to go home. I must return to my people with the spoils of war, lay my bloodied sword at the feet of my great king, and celebrate my conquest of all the lands from here to distant Macedonia.”
  • Sakuya: “What is this ‘fun’?”
  • Hiyoko: “My heart’s racing, but I can’t tell if it’s love or fear for my life!”

As you can see, Hiyoko clearly gets some of the best lines in the game.

Hatoful Boyfriend

Come on everybirdie! Let’s play!

As crazy as Hatoful Boyfriend is, and bear in mind that it is absolutely and completely ridiculous, it’s actually not a bad way to kill some time. Hell, I’m ready to go through an online shopping service to get a copy of Hatoful Boyfriend Hurtful Edition right now. It’s absolute rubbish and nonsense, but part of the fun is that everyone knows it. The developer knows, the translation team knew and of course we know. Sometimes, you just want a game that’s absolutely unexpected to play, and Hatoful Boyfriend is it. If you really want to think about it, it has everything! There’s high school drama, clandestine affairs, scandal, humor, love and a random serial killer.

Oddly enough, don’t go in expecting to easily earn the love of one of the birds. You’ll actually have to work and pay attention to Hiyoko’s stats for some birdies to make progress and end up with one of the seven good endings. Of course, it’s no big deal if you do screw up. Hatoful Boyfriend is usually hilarious either way and I suppose you could consider Hiyoko not ending up with a bird boyfriend to be a good thing!

In closing, here are two recommendations that I feel very confident in making. First! Don’t play Shu Iwamine’s route at night. It’s simultaneously creepy, disturbing and hilarious. Second, save before making the final choice in Yuuya Sakazaki because then you can get his good ending and the “bad” solo ending has the craziest twist ever and is actually better than his good ending.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports talks about Fate/stay night and the whole Fate/ series.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports suggested some imported goodies you could give as gifts.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Important Importables: 2011 imported goodies gift guide

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: 2011 imported goodies gift guide

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Final Fantasy XIV Kuplu Kopo MoogleSometimes, import games and consoles aren’t the right gift. I mean, the language barrier could be too much to overcome. Plus, they’re usually twice as expensive as a game from North America. That doesn’t mean you have to settle for easy to find items though. There are tons of fun little gadgets and goodies from Japan that don’t need any translation to love! And, so you don’t have to sift through all of them, I did!

So here we go, with a pretty brief look at six different items that would work as gifts for the picky people on your list who won’t be satisfied with a gift that’s easy to find and from their own country!

Final Fantasy XIV Kuplu Kopo
Price: $29.90 at Play-Asia, $29.99 at Japan Video Games
Description: It’s a 32cm tall stuffed moogle, from the Final Fantasy series. This one is specifically from FFXIV, but since all moogles look pretty much the same, it doesn’t matter.
Who’d Want It? Final Fantasy fanatics of any age.

Ningen GakkiNingen Gakki
Price: $32.45 at AmiAmi, $36 at Japan Trend Shop, $43.60 at Strapya World
Description: This toys is both strange and awesome. It’s kind of a game for between two and four people, but it’s more of a fun timesink. Each person holds one of the arms/legs of the device, then the play button is pushed. As long as you hold the device in one hand, you can use the other to touch the other people also holding the Ningen Gakki to make noises. So, you play songs by tapping, touching and perhaps even smacking the other people.
Who’d Want It? Everybody. Primarily kids, but I could see adults wanting and having fun with it too. Hey, I want one!

Rilakkuma Nohohon Mascot
Price: $19.90 at Play-Asia, $34.99 at YesAsia
Description: Nohohons are little window-sitter mascots you set in the sunlight, and they’ll bob their heads back and forth. They’re quite relaxing. Now, there are currently two different style Rilakkuma solar-powered mascots available. The one at YesAsia is rather plain and a standard version of Rilakkuma. The Play-Asia isn’t an official Nohohon-zoku, but it is cheaper, does the same thing and puts headphones on the cute bear.
Who’d Want It? Someone who likes little novelty items that look cute and sit there, but don’t really do anything constructive.

Studio Ghibli POnyo Music boxStudio Ghibli Music Box
Price: $62.90 – $65.40 at Strapya World
Description: Now these are a whole new kind of awesome. There are three different music boxes, representing My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo. Each one plays a song from the movie and, once wound, has moving parts and characters. They’re precious. For some reason though, the Totoro music box is about $3 cheaper than the other two.
Who’d Want It? Fans of anime, or just animated movies in general.

Super Mario Bros. Wii Turtle Air Hockey
Price: $14.20 at Strapya World
Description: This is a air hockey Koopa shell. You put it on a smooth surface, like a table, and voila! Instant air hockey!
Who’d Want It? I’d say this is a definite stocking stuffer for kids under the age of 13.

Tuttuki BakoTuttuki Bako
Price: $64.99 at YesAsia, $86 at Japan Trend Shop
Description: Tuttuki Bako is actually kind of neat. It’s a block with a whole in the side and five game modes. You stick your finger in the hole to interact with the character on the screen. So you can reach in and tap a face, a lman, a panda, sea creatures or a slime.
Who’d Want It? Children. It could be something fun to have on their desks to play with when they get bored. I guess it could also be a good gag gift for a coworker, though it seems to expensive for a casual acquaintance.

So there you go, seven interesting little novelties that could easily be given as gifts to pretty much everyone on your wishlist. I’m especially fond of the Ningen Gakki, what about you?

COMING THE WEEK AFTER NEXT: Hot Japanese Imports talks about the Fate/ series.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports had a 2011 console game gift guide.

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Important Importables: 2011 console game gift guide

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: 2011 console game gift guide

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Ni no Kuni Magical PS3 BundleTime for another gift guide! This time, we’re looking at the slightly more expensive console games and special consoles that can only be found in Japan and Europe. You know, the delicacies most gamers can never see or experience because they require importing and cost so much money. That second part is especially poignant now that the dollar’s value has dropped against the yen. Still, if you want to pamper a gamer, one of these items could be the way to do it.

Now remember, only the PS3 is region-free. Any PS3 can play any PS3 game. However, Wiis and Xbox 360s are region-locked consoles. So before buying any import games for a Wii or Xbox 360 owner, make sure they have a way to actually play them! Both AmiAmi and Play-Asia are reliable sites to shop and order from, with AmiAmi usually being the cheaper of the two.

Before we launch into the six game recommendations, there are a few awesome, Japanese PS3s that make any gamer’s year if he or she received one as a present. There’s a 160gb Tales of Xillia X Edition PS3 bundle immediately available that includes an etched PS3 with the two main characters on it and a copy of the game. It’ll set you back quite a bit though, with an import price point of over $500. The same can be said for the 160gb Ni no Kuni: Shiroki Seihai no Joou Magical Edition PS3 bundle, which comes with a pearl white PS3 and a subtle gold etching one one of the main characters in the bottom left corner of the unit, a matching controller and a copy of the game. Just remember that import PS3s are only able to play Japanese DVDs, Blu-rays and PSOne games. So there is some region-locking, but it doesn’t apply to PS3 games. Also, you’ll be able to set the system language to English the first time you use it.

Now that we’re done with that, let’s move on to the game suggestions!

Idolmaster 2
Idolmaster 2
System: PS3
Price: $85 and $98
Genre: Music / Simulation
Description: In this direct sequel to Idolmaster, players once again are a 765 producer in charge of putting together a successful idol singing group. You have to pick your singers, train them, handle publicity, get them auditions and make them the most successful group in Japan.
Import Friendly: There is a lot of text, but there’s also an “easy” mode and you can usually get by pretty well just by playing the music-based mini-games. So I’d say go for it, as long as the person can recognize hirigana and katakana.

The Last Story
System: Wii
Price: Between $69 and $87
Genre: Action RPG
Description: A group of mercenaries who have come to Ruli Island to find work, and inadvertantly get hired by Earl Arganan and caught up in a war between humans and the beast-like Gurgs.
Import Friendly: Not really. You need a Japanese Wii, plus there’s a lot of text since it’s an RPG. If the person on your wish list can’t read Japanese, then it’d be better to wait and get him or her the European version, which will be in English and out in 2012.

Ougon Musou Kyoku X
Ougon Musou Kyoku X
System: Xbox 360
Price: Between $87 and $98
Genre: Fighting
Description: This is an Xbox 360 port of the Ougon Musou Kyoku spin-off fighting game inspired by Alchemist’s Umineko no Naku Koro ni visual novel series. You fight in tag team battles against other characters from the visual novel, occasionally going into the Meta World to make attacks more effective.
Import Friendly: Very, as long as the person owns a Japanese Xbox 360. You don’t need to know what’s being said to enjoy yourself and fight with Umineko characters.

Pandora’s Tower: Until I Return to Your Side
System: Wii
Price: Around $87
Genre: Action RPG
Description: A young woman named Ceres was cursed after performing at a harvest festival, and now Ende must go with her to go through 13 Towers to get flesh from the beast bosses that reside within and save Ceres. There are multiple endings, which are determined based on how Ceres is treated and actions the player takes.
Import Friendly: See the description for The Last Story, since it applies here as well.

Tales of Xillia
Tales of Xillia
System: PS3
Price: Between $70 and $98
Genre: Action RPG
Description: Jude is a doctor who is called to a military lab after an accident there. That’s where he meets Milla, a woman who claims she is a Maxwell and destined to protect the world. Because she felt the world and spirit in distress because of the lab, she went there. The two then set off to help save and protect the world.
Import Friendly: Several guides are in the works online, so I’d say it’d be okay for people who have played Tales games before or who have intermediate Japanese language skills.

Xenoblade Chronicles
System: Wii
Price: Between $60 and $80
Genre: Action RPG
Description: Xenoblade takes place in a world where two giants, called Bionis and Mechonis, once fought. The two waged war against one another, until both died. Now, there are beings living on both giants that are fighting. The humanoid-organic people on Bionis are being attacked by the sentient machines from Mechonis. A man named Shulk has found the Monado though, and he and his friends are now setting off to fight the machines and bring peace to their world.
Import Friendly: If you get the European version, very since it’s in English. And, though I don’t condone modding a Wii, it can be done to allow North American Wiis to play this particular, European game.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports has a 2011 general imported goodie gift guide.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports looked at some import DS and PSP games that would make great gifts this year

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Japan Import: 999′s successor is Extreme Escape Adventure

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Japan Import: 999′s successor is Extreme Escape Adventure

Extreme Escape Adventure Good People DieChunsoft’s 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors proved that North America was ready for a visual novel done right. Now, we just have to hope that it sold well enough to convince Chunsoft and Aksys to work together again to bring Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die to North America as well. That’s because Extreme Escape Adventure is a successor to the previous adventure, offering yet another chilling scenario filled with puzzles and suspense. This time, however, it’s a multiplatform release and both 3DS and Vita owners will be able to help save a lot of virtual lives.

Extreme Escape Adventure won’t be released in Japan until February 16, 2012, but a steady stream of information has been trickling out. Chunsoft’s even released a trailer. There’s lots of Japanese with an occasional English phrase and it shows off all the main characters.

As you see, Ice9 showed up again. And there are the wristbands and a single, numbered door.

The goal is to get each “player’s” watch show the number 9 by solving puzzles and making the correct choices. That means that character can leave through the 9 door and be saved. The wrong choices, however, make the number decrease. If the number hits zero, the bracelet injects the bearer with poison and kills him or her. So where 999 had the Nonary Game, Extreme Escape Adventure has this system called the AB Game. It also means plenty of opportunities for multiple endings.

We still don’t know for sure if Chunsoft is making Extreme Escape Adventure a direct sequel to 999 or if it is just a spiritual successor. As Siliconera pointed out, it seems like the same woman named Alice appears in both games. (You only get to see Alice in a certain 999 ending!) Not to mention there’s a character named Clover forced to participate in this game who looks a lot like 999‘s Clover.

There’s no word on an English release yet. 999 did do better than expected for Aksys though and it seems like companies are going to really want to get 3DS and Vita games out there. Maybe we should keep an eye on Extreme Escape Adventure and show our support in the hopes Aksys and Chunsoft will work out a deal!

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Important Importables: 2011 handheld game gift guide

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: 2011 handheld game gift guide

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The holiday season is fast approaching, which means it’s time for an Hot Japanese Imports tradition. Yes, it’s time for our gift guide extravaganza. We’re starting off, as always, with our portable games gift guide. All of the following are import games you may want to pick up for a special someone.

Now, before we start, don’t expect to see any 3DS games. The system is region-locked, which makes importing a pain. You’d actually have to make sure the person you’re buying for has a Japanese 3DS or actually buy them a Japanese 3DS to go with the import game. It’s a hassle, so we’re only focusing on the region-free import DS and PSP games this year that can play on any DS or PSP, regardless of where you originally bought it.

As for places to go to for the following games, I recommend Play-Asia or AmiAmi. AmiAmi is usually cheaper, but Play-Asia has more payment and shipping options. Since the currency exchange rate favors the yen right now, you may want to go with AmiAmi.

Nora to Koku no Koubou Kiri no Mori no Majo


Battle & Get! Pokemon Typing DS
Price: Between $59 and $75
Genre: Edutainment
Description: Learn to type by going through mini-games and trying to catch pokemon. Apparently, it’s educational and fun.
Import Friendly: Surprisingly, yes! The keyboard is a standard, English language keyboard that works with any DS. Also, the typing challenges involve typing things out in Romanji (standard alphabet) or tapping the correct key.

Gyakuten Kenji 2
Price: Between $52 and $64
Genre: Adventure
Description: Capcom’s already said it won’t release the second Ace Attorney Investigations game in English, so we’ll have to import it again. Once again, players help prosecutor Miles Edgeworth solve some cases and save the day.
Import Friendly: Nope. It’s incredibly text heavy. Only get it for someone who is fluent in Japanese.

Nora to Koku no Koubou: Kiri no Mori no Majo
Price: Around $74
Genre: RPG / Simulation
Description: A time alchemist named Nora gets mistaken for a witch, and has to create items for the villagers to earn their trust and find out more about the real witch. It’s similar to Gust’s Atelier games.
Import Friendly: Only get this for someone who can read Japanese, otherwise they won’t be able to fulfill requests and make items.

One Piece: Gigant Battle 2 Shinsekai
Price: Between $53 and $65
Genre: Fighting
Description: This is just like the One Piece: Gigant Battle game released in Europe a few months ago. Players get to pick characters from One Piece and fight around maps against up to four other opponents, trying to prove who’s best. This entry has 40 fighters, around 100 support characters and online multiplayer.
Import Friendly: Very. It’s a fighting game so you don’t really have to read anything to win. Also, it’s similar to the Jump Ultimate Stars and Smash Bros. style games so people will have no trouble figuring out how to play.

SaGa 3: Jikuu no Hasha Shadow or Light
Price: Between $57 and $62
Genre: Turn-based RPG
Description: SaGa 3 is a time traveling RPG. In the future, the Pureland Water Entity has flooded the entire world, and so three people from the future and one person from the present travel through time to collect pieces of a ship so that can defeat the monster and save the world.
Import Friendly: I want to say it would only be good for people who can read Japanese, but it also is a pretty straightforward RPG. Plus, it’s a remake of the original GameBoy game Final Fantasy Legends 3 which was released in English. If the person you’re buying it for isn’t fluent but does know some basic hirigana and katakana, I think he or she could handle it.

Taiko no Tatsujin Portable DX


Final Fantasy Type-0
Price: Between $81 and $91.
Genre: Action RPG
Description: This is a new and original Final Fantasy game where players control a student from a military academy and try to protect their homeland and reactivate their country’s crystal to keep out invaders. You can take on missions alone or, if you have a friend nearby with the game, work together.
Import Friendly: If the person you’re shopping for can read Japanese, there’ll be no problem. If not, then pass. Otherwise, he or she won’t be able to figure out what to do to complete each mission.

Eiyuu Densetsu: Ao no Kiseki
Price: Between $64 and $73
Genre: Turn-based RPG
Description: If you know someone who loved XSEED’s localization of Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, then get them the newest entry in the series, Trails of Blue. Players have to help new characters save Crossbel and the world from the Uroboros’ drug.
Import Friendly: Nope. There’s lots of text here. So make sure the person you’re buying it for can read Japanese.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Extend
Price: Between $55 and $64
Genre: Music
Description: This is a straightforward music game featurng the Vocaloids, primarily Miku Hatsune. It’s essentially an updated and slightly larger version of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva 2nd.
Import Friendly: Very. Even though the menus and songs are all in Japanese, it’s like the DJ Max series and other music games and just requires players to press the X, O, square, triangle and D-pad buttons to play. Plus, there are translation guides online so anyone can play.

Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan Saisen
Price: Between $66 and $76
Genre: Fighting
Description: This is a standard, 2.5D fighting game featuring the cast of Rurouni Kenshin. There’s a decent selection of characters to choose from, quite a few different gameplay modes and assorted special moves. Players can even try to knock opponent’s swords out of their hands to make matches easier.
Import Friendly: Quite. It’s a fighting game and you can find help if you search online when it comes to deciphering menus. It’s pretty easy for anyone to pick up and play.

Taiko no Tatsujin Portable DX
Price: Between $50 and $65
Genre: Music
Description: Like all of the Taiko no Tatsujin games, the point is to play the drum in time with the music to earn a high score. Or, in the case of some of the other modes, to beat an opponent. It’s simple at the core, but can get quite difficult once you pick harder difficulty levels or more complicated songs.
Import Friendly: Very. The menus are all in Japanese, but it’s easy to figuring out what to do via trial and error or looking online for help. Plus, there are lots of songs from video games to drum along with.

Finally, there’s one last importable item to consider splurging on as a gift. The PS Vita will be released in Japan in December. If you pre-order at an online site, you may still be able to get one. The PS Vita will be region free, so you won’t have to worry about any barriers when it comes to playing games. Just make sure you get the Wi-Fi model, not the 3G one, and you’ll be fine. Play-Asia is selling them for $525 each.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports has a 2011 console game gift guide.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports previewed the Idolmaster 2 PS3 demo.

Site [Gamertell] Site [Play-Asia] Site [YesAsia] Site [NCSX] Site [Himeya Shop] Site [Strapya World]

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