Archive for May, 2011

Important Importables Review: Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu for DS

May 28, 2011 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu for DS

Section: Reviews, Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, Handhelds, DS & DSi & DSi XL, Game-Companies, Developers, Publishers, Genres, 2D, Adventure, Sim

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暗闇の果てで君を待つ Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu DS

Title: Kurayami no Hate de Kimi o Matsu
Price: around $55
System(s): DS
Release Date: October 22, 2009
Publisher (Developer): D3 Publisher (D3 Publisher)
ESRB Rating: N/A, CERO B for Ages 12+
Pros: Great blend of adventure and otome (girl’s dating sim) game. Interesting characters. Nice assortment of puzzles. Quite a few CGs to collect. Story is pretty well written and involving. Good voice acting. Heroine is quite strong and intelligent.
Cons: Very text heavy, which could deter importers. Have to beat the game once to get Kousaka’s ending. While each character’s ending is different, the same character is always the “bad guy.” The villain route is incredibly demented and dark (with 2 twisted endings), which could be incredibly unsettling to some players.
Overall Score: 8/10

Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu is undoubtedly unique. It’s not often you find a dark, serious adventure game about a serial killer that also has dating simulation aspects. Honestly, it’s probably the first and, while there are a few minor disappointments, it offers a really intriguing experience to anyone willing to play. Just brace yourself if you decide to take a route where the heroine sides with the villain.

暗闇の果てで君を待つ Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu DS

You’re trapped in a school by a serial killer. Time to find the truth, a way out and… love?

Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu starts out with a lighthearted idea – Miyuki Hasekura and a group of five other, male students are going on a school sanctioned hiking trip with a teacher and teaching assistant. Of course, things don’t go as planned. Mikimoto, the trainee teacher, loses control of the bus after an accident and when everyone wakes up, they’re trapped in a deserted school. Miyuki, her childhood friend Katsumi and Mikimoto find themselves trapped in a locked room and Mikimoto leaves through a window to try and find a way out.

Hope you didn’t get attached to Mikimoto, because there’s a loud noise and he’s found dead. It turns out everyone in the abandoned school have been trapped there by a serial killer. The killer says that each one is a sinner and, if they can’t get out by the next day, he’s going to kill them all. The heroine must then team up with a partner from the surviving students and teacher to find out what’s going on and escape.

暗闇の果てで君を待つ Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu DS

Escaping a school with your partner isn’t easy.

Even though Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu is classified as an otome game, it’s really first and foremost an adventure game. Players guide Miyuki and her partner around the school, investigating rooms and solving puzzles to save the lives of the other students and find a way out of the school. You’ll also have to talk to the other characters to find out what’s going on and build relationships. It’s all fairly standard, point-and-click adventure fare, and the touch screen works wonderfully.

Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu is notable for another reason and that’s Miyuki, the heroine. She’s probably one of the strongest and smartest otome game heroine I’ve ever encountered. In all routes except one, she’s the strongest, smartest and most reasonable character there. She’s able to figure things out, without panicking, and manages to save everyone with her quick responses (in all routes except one). It’s refreshing, since some games have heroines that are completely clueless, submissive and even a bit stupid. It’s quite a drastic change, especially if you compare Miyuki to Tamaki from Hiiro no Kakera.

One thing I would have liked to have seen was a bit more variation in terms of the storyline. With the exception of one route, where things get totally turned around, Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu‘s major points remain the same. There’s the same purpose and the same villain each time. I really would have liked to have seen D3 experiment a bit more – maybe have a different guy be the villain in each route. It isn’t a deal-breaker though and is really just wishful thinking on my part. The way the game plays out each time works as well, as each route you complete helps you better understand the story and motivations of each character.

Speaking of routes, there’s one in Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu that could be triggering for some people and is incredibly dark and violent. That’s the route where the heroine actually ends up with the serial killer, because he’s actually one of the dateable bachelors in the game. It is incredibly twisted, which could turn a lot of people off of the game. Ironically, this devious path is also one of the most intriguing, since it completely shifts the purpose and point of the game. You just have to play the game once through with another, normal guy, in order to make it accessible on a subsequent playthrough.

暗闇の果てで君を待つ Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu DS

An interesting twist on the dating sim adventure

So Kurayami no Hate de Kimi wo Matsu may not be the perfect adventure and otome blend. It’s still pretty darn good. It would have been perfect if the villain in each route would have been different, but manner D3 chose to go with does provide consistency. The story is intriguing, the puzzles slightly challenging and most of the characters are pretty believable. Plus, the route where the heroine ends up with the villain provides some seriously unsettling twists and turns, for people who like darker tales. It’s an intriguing effort and worth a try for any adult otome fans.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports talks about Quinrose.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports talked about Cave Story.

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

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Popularity: 2% [?]

Important Importables: Cave Story

May 22, 2011 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: Cave Story

Section: Exclusives, Originals, Features, Japanese Imports, Nostalgia, Consoles, Wii, PCs, Linux, Mac, Windows, Handhelds, DS & DSi & DSi XL, 3DS, Game-Companies, Developers, Indie, Publishers, Genres, 2D, 3D, Action, Adventure

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For an indie, Japanese computer game that’s seven years old, Cave Story has carved quite a place for itself in the hearts of gamers. If you try it, it’s easy to see why. The solid story, gameplay and quality of even the original release are what makes it such a memorable adventure. While the basic fundamentals are relatively simple, there are plenty of secrets that make the original worth playing. Meanwhile, the more modern adaptations also have their own little hallmarks that have helped endear this surprising game to a new audience.

Cave Story WiiWare

What’s Cave Story?

Cave Story, Doukutsu Monogatari in Japan, doesn’t really fit comfortably into just one genre. If you want to be general and narrow it down, it’s an action game created by an independent, Japanese developer named Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya. (Yes, the entire, original Windows game was created by a single man. It took him five years.) If you want to get technical, Cave Story encorporates elements from a number of genres and different games. There are definite RPG and adventure elements, since the main character, Quote, collects items, weapons (which can be leveled up) and sometimes has to solve problems and situations by completing simple puzzles or through non-violent means. It can also be compared to run-and-gun games like Mega Man, or considered a Metroidvania style game due to all the exploration that can be done on the floating island.

All of Cave Story takes part on a floating island. Players start off as an amnesiac boy who wakes up in a cave. He doesn’t know why he’s there, who he is or what he’s supposed to do. (His name is actually Quote, so we’ll go ahead and refer to him as that.) He walks out and sees some Mimiga, rabbit like creatures, in their village talking about how Sue is getting all the Mimiga in trouble because the Doctor is searching for her. Since Sue was transformed into a Mimiga, the Doctor keeps sending his minions Misery and Balrog to capture Mimigas hoping he’ll eventually grab her. This has lead to a drastic decrease in the Mimiga population and the head of the village wants to just turn Sue over. While Quote tries to meet Sue, Sue’s lone Mimiga friend Toriko is kidnapped. Quote then get involved in the situation, trying to help Sue, Sue’s family and the Mimiga.

Cave Story 3D 3DS

Cave Story iterations

Cave Story was originally released in Japan in 2004 as a free, indie, Windows PC game. Which meant that it was initially pretty difficult for people who didn’t read Japanese to play, since you need to understand at least some of the text to understand how to proceed through the game. The fan-translation group Aeon Genesis stepped in to help out and, a year later released an English translation. Chinese, French, German, Portugeuse and Spanish translations were released later. In addition, Cave Story was eventually ported to Macs by Nakiwo and Linux by Simon Parzer and Peter Mackay.

Then, in 2010, Cave Story received it’s first two ports. Nicalis and Pixel worked together to create enhanced WiiWare and DSiWare remakes. Both added an additional game modes, which included a Boss Rush, a Curly Brace mode and a time attack mode. The ports also featured enhanced graphics, rearranged music and an official English translation. There are even special surprises, should player decide to play Cave Story on their DSi or Wii on Halloween, Christmas Eve and Christmas.

There’s also one more version of Cave Story still to come. Pixel and NIS America have teamed up to bring Cave Story 3D to the 3DS on August 9, 2011. NIS America and Pixel still haven’t revealed what will be in this incarnation, but it will feature 3DS graphics. Also, the promotional materials for the game showed a Prinny, the NIS mascot and Disgaea star, wearing Quote’s outfit. I guess we’ll have to be patient and wait three more months to see how this version turns out!

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports reviews the DS game Kurayami no Hate de Kimi o Matsu.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports talked about 5pb.

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

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Popularity: 3% [?]

Deathsmiles IIX is an Xbox 360 Games on Demand exclusive

May 14, 2011 - 2:00 am No Comments

Deathsmiles IIX is an Xbox 360 Games on Demand exclusive

Section: Gaming News, Features, Japanese Imports, Consoles, Xbox-360, Game-Companies, Developers, Publishers, Genres, Shooter, Updates, Xbox-Live

Deathsmiles IIX 2XA big first is coming up soon, as the Xbox 360’s Games on Demand service is going to be host to its first import game. Shmup fans will be pleased to know that the title in question is Cave’s Deathsmiles IIX, or Deathsmiles 2X if you prefer, the sequel to Cave’s Deathsmiles. Unfortunately, Deathsmiles IIX isn’t getting an English, retail release from Aksys like Deathsmiles did. If you want Deathsmiles IIX, you’re going to have to download it and deal with Japanese text.

Thankfully, text isn’t a big deal when it comes to bullet hell shoot’em ups (Or in this case, cute’em up?) like Deathsmiles IIX. If you played the original Deathsmiles, you’ll have no problem getting through the sequel since the general purpose is the same. Even if you’ve never played a Deathsmiles game, you should be ok. Just pick a character, then shoot anything that shoots at her while you try to keep from getting hit by all the bullets flying around the screen. Oh, and it’s all Christmas themed.

If you want to see how this HD shoot’em up plays, check out Cave’s Deathsmiles IIX trailer.

Skip to the 1:20 mark to watch Windia beat down a monstrous Santa Claus and Rudolph. At least, I think that’s Rudolph – his nose did look kind of red.

If you’re interested, then turn on your Xbox 360 on May 17, 2011 and head to Games on Demand. Make sure you have a credit card ready, since you can’t use Microsoft Points to pick up this $29.99 game.

Read [Facebook l Cave] Via [Siliconera] Site [Deathsmiles IIX]

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Popularity: 9% [?]

Japan Import: Here’s what will be in the first 3DS eShop update

May 12, 2011 - 2:00 am No Comments

Japan Import: Here’s what will be in the first 3DS eShop update

Section: Gaming News, Features, Japanese Imports, Handhelds, 3DS, Game-Companies, Publishers, Genres, 2D, 3D, Action, Puzzle, Racing, Role-Playing, Updates, Firmware

Nintendo 3DS3DS owners have been waiting for the big firmware update since the system launched back on March 27, 2011 and it’s almost upon us. Nintendo still hasn’t provided a solid release date, only saying that the eShop and internet browser-bearing update will be arriving before May ends, but recent signs have gotten people buzzing. First, there was a DSi and DSi firmware update that supposedly just contains behind the scene fixes and could be preparing for the DSi to 3DS DSiWare transfer. Now, the newest issue of Famitsu tells everyone what to expect from the Japanese eShop launch.

The initial launch lineup seems pretty robust. There’ll be Rockman Dash and Peticom 3DSware games ready. Plus, there will be three 3D Classics, which are NES games with 3D effects added in. One will be Excitebike, which everyone gets for free. The other two are Legend of Zelda and Xevious. There will also be a number of Virtual Console style ports, with Columns (GG), Dragon Crystal (GG), Ikari no Yousai (GB), a The Legend of Zelda DX (GBC) demo, Phantasm (GB), Sonic Drift 2 (GG), Sonic & Tails 2 (GG) and Super Mario Land (GBC). There will also be three application demos to download, among them one for a channel that will show 3D trailers and previews, a 3D video player and one for Fuji TV & Nippon TV previews. I’m thinking Ikari no Yousai and the Fuji TV & Nippon TV previews will be Japan eShop exclusives.

There was one more interesting tidbit in Famitsu‘s update on the 3DS firmware. Apparently, Japan will be getting it before the end of May. Since all regions have the same 3DS firmware launch window and the GameGear Classics lineup seems to be the same for all regions, perhaps we’ll see those games and applications when the North American and European 3DS eShops launch as well. We already know for sure that Mega Man Legends 3: Prototype will be in the North American eShop when it launches.

Read [The Magic Box] Via [Destructoid]

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Popularity: 8% [?]

Japan Import: 3DS owners can find girlfriends in New Love Plus

May 12, 2011 - 2:00 am No Comments

Japan Import: 3DS owners can find girlfriends in New Love Plus

Section: Gaming News, Features, Japanese Imports, Handhelds, 3DS, Game-Companies, Developers, Publishers, Genres, 3D, Adventure, Sim

Project Love Plus 3DS Logo KonamiI hope you aren’t an import game fan, because there’s some sad news for 3DS owners. Well, I guess it’s good news for Japanese 3DS owners who love dating sims, but bad news for anyone who owns a non-Japanese 3DS system. Famitsu had the first reveal of Konami’s 3DS Love Plus game, which is currently being referred to as New Love Plus. The part that’s really going to sting is that it’s an all new game, and not just an enhanced port of Love Plus (DS) or Love Plus+.

New Love Plus is completely revamped, so everything is supposedly going to be better than the original DS game. The graphics are better and in 3D, the areas and activities are better. It’s just supposed to be an even more comprehensive girlfriend simulator. I guess this means people will be able to look at Manaka, Nene and Rinko, the three heroines, in an all new way. This time around, they’ll even make friends with one another! Oh, and you will also be able to introduce the one you eventually make your girlfriend to your actual parents.

The new game will also be compatible with prior Love Plus games. If someone owned Love Plus or Love Plus+, then they’ll apparently be able to carry over some data to New Love Plus. Perhaps you’ll start the 3DS game with one of the girls immediately as your girlfriend. New Love Plus will also connect to the Love Plus arcade games too, to exchange information.

And yes, the biggest feature is still in New Love Plus. I’m talking about Boyfriend Lock. As you play the game, the girl you make your girlfriend will start to recognize you. So if one of your friends borrows your 3DS and loads up your saved game, the girl will refuse to go on dates with him.

There is currently a Q3 2011 launch window for New Love Plus. Not that it matters, really. The 3DS is a region-locked system, so the only way people outside Japan who are interested in the game can play it is if they spend an additional $300 to import a Japanese 3DS.

Read [Andriasang] Also Read [1up]

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Popularity: 3% [?]

Japan Import: Noora and the Time Studio looks adorable

May 12, 2011 - 2:00 am No Comments

Japan Import: Noora and the Time Studio looks adorable

Section: Gaming News, Features, Japanese Imports, Handhelds, DS & DSi & DSi XL, Game-Companies, Developers, Publishers, Genres, 2D, Role-Playing, Sim

Noora Nora and the Time Studio The Witch of Misty ForestAtlus has a RPG in the works in Japan that seems guaranteed to put smiles on DS and 3DS owners’ faces. Noora and the Time Studio: The Witch of the Misty Forest is a RPG and life sim where players help a young girl named Noora help the people around her while becoming a master time manipulator. That’s Noora on the right over there. If her character art looks familiar, that’s because Etrian Odyssey director Shigeo Komori, Etrian Odyssey character designer Yuji Himukai and Atelier scenario creator Shinichi Yoshiike have teamed up for this endeavor.

Noora is an apprentice practicing the time honored trade of time manipulation. If you’re familiar with the Atelier and Mana Khemia series, then you’ll be pleased to know that Noora’s trade is very similar to alchemy. She decides to spend three years training in Temperina’s Misty Forest. Not such a good idea, because the people of Temperina have legends about a witch living in Misty Forest and Noora and her unusual ability make her seem pretty witchy. Of course, it’d be easy if Noora could just reveal herself, but she isn’t allowed to tell other people about time manipulation.

So in Noora and the Time Studio, Noora just has to run errands and do missions for the townsfolk to make them like her and see she isn’t a witch. She has three years to clear her name and, along the way, she’ll make friends to help her out. Depending on what missions players take and what they do, they can unlock multiple endings.

Here’s a rather comprehensive, first trailer for Noora and the Time Studio. You can see both the RPG and time manipulation (read: alchemy) elements at work in it.

Okay Atlus, here’s your next game to bring to North America. It looks absolutely adorable, the premise seems awesome and we could use one last dose of DS goodness from you before you start focusing solely on the 3DS. Since it comes out July 21, 2011 in Japan, I doubt we’ll see a surprise E3 announcement concerning Noora and the Time Studio.

Read [Andriasang] Also Read [Siliconera] Site [Noora and the Time Studio: The Witch of the Misty Forest (Japanese)]

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Popularity: unranked [?]

Important Importables: 5pb

May 8, 2011 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: 5pb

Section: Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, Consoles, PS1, PS2, Xbox-360, Consoles-Other, PCs, Windows, Handhelds, PSP & PSPgo, iPhone & iPod Touch & iPad, Game-Companies, Developers, Publishers, Genres, 2D, Adventure, Bishoujo, Fighting, Shooter

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Last week, when Hot Japanese Imports talked about visual novels you could get for your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, the publisher 5pb came up quite often. That’s because it’s quite well known for a number of its VN series, some of which are starting to find fame outside Japan despite never being released in English. Not to mention, Hot Japanese Imports reviewed a 5pb PSP game a while back. It seemed like a good time to look into what that particular company is about. Especially since they might not be around for much longer. (Cue the ominous music!)

Memories Off 6 T-wave 5pb iPhone iPad iPod Touch

All about 5pb

Actually, it may be better to talk all about AG-One. That’s 5pb’s parent company, which it is being absorbed into on June 1, 2011. For now, 5pb is still a separate entity though. Besides, even after the merger 5pb could still stay around as the brand name to cover AG-One’s video games and record label. Think of it as a situation similar to what happened with Atlus and Index. Index was the parent company and absorbed Atlus, in that case, but Atlus games still exist.

5pb was first created in 2005, and it develops and publishes video games, as well as publishing music. The 5pb part stands for “Five Powered & Basics.” When it comes to video games, 5pb is mainly works with visual novels. That isn’t to say they don’t make other games, just those are their primary focus. The company also tends to stick to console and handheld games. The music artists it usually signs tend to be rock and pop singers, like Ayane, Riyu Kosaka and Yui Sakakibara.

While 5pb hasn’t released any physical copies of games outside Japan, it is starting to build a worldwide presense on iTunes. The company has begun porting some of its more successful visual novels, like Chaos;Head Noah (Chaos; Head port), 11 eyes CrossOver and Memories Off 6 ~T-wave~. So even though its games are rare and niche overseas, there is still a small chance you’ve heard of them.

Chaos Head Noah iPhone iPad iPod Touch

Recommended 5pb games

Unfortunately, no 5pb games have been released in English yet. So if you want to play one of them, you’ll probably need some basic understanding of Japanese. If you can’t read hirigana, katakana or kanji, or at the very least understand the spoken language (since practically every 5pb game has voice acting), you’re pretty much out of luck. If you can, then you could get to experience some really interesting stories and games.

  • Chaos;Head (iOS, PSP, Windows, Xbox 360): This is a mature thriller visual novel from NitroPlus and 5pb about a young man who finds himself caught up in a series of murders going on in his town. He also seems to be gradually losing his mind and a target for both the murderer and the police. It’s a mature series, which has been so successful that it’s inspired manga and anime adaptations. It also inspired a spin-off Xbox 360 visual novel that was a dating sim called Chaos;Head Love Chu Chu!.
  • Ketsui ~Kizuna Jigoku Tachi~ (Xbox 360): This is probably the only game 5pb was involved with that you can enjoy without any knowledge of Japanese. It’s a Cave and 5pb shoot’em up set in a post apocolyptic world. In order to save the world, one of two pairs of pilots must hop in a fake EVAC plane go into EVAC and cause chaos inside that organization. A DS adaptation was also released, but Arika took care of it.
  • Memories Off (Dreamcast, iOS, PS1, PS2, PSP, Windows, Xbox 360): 5pb’s most popular games are its Memories Off series of visual novel dating simulations. Each one has a different story and situation to explore, with the story changing depending on which character you decide to pursue. It’s unique in that almost every game in the series has multiple endings for each chaseable character. The series has even inspired a spinoff game for women called Your Memories Off ~Girl’s Side~. There have also been animated movies or short series inspired by certain entries in the series.
  • Phantom Breaker (Xbox 360): Here’s one to look forward to. Phantom Breaker is a 2D fighting game from 5pb. It’s going to be a lot like Arcana Heart, as it features only female fighters. It also is going to have some cameo appearances from characters from Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate. It’ll also be fairly import friendly when it comes out in June 2011, as text really isn’t much of an issue in fighters.
  • Skip Beat! (PS2): 5pb was responsible for a game (adventure, visual novel, simulation) based on the Skip Beat! anime and manga series. Actually, it follows the anime series more closely and acts as a sequel to that, since you’re helping Kyoko find new acting gigs and build relationships with other characters from the original series in the hopes of making her a success.
  • Steins;Gate (PSP, Xbox 360, Windows): Another thriller visual novel from 5pb and NitroPlus. In this game some a select group of Akihabara residents, one of whom claims to be a mad scientist, jury-rig a microwave to make it a device to send messages to the path, and in doing so attract the attention of a group called SERN that tries to eliminate them. Like Chaos;Head, it has inspired manga and anime series, as well as a more lighthearted spin-off game.

Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate are pretty much 5pb’s current darlings, so if you’re looking for a visual novel filled with suspense, you may want to start with one of those two games.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports talks about Cave Story.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week talked about iPhone visual novels.

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

Full Story » | Written by Jenni Lada for Gamertell. | Comment on this Article »

Popularity: 3% [?]

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