Archive for February, 2012

Important Importables Review: Mother 3 for GBA

February 18, 2012 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Mother 3 for GBA

Title: Mother 3
Price: A copy will probably cost you at least $35
System(s): GBA
Release Date: April 20, 2006
Publisher (Developer): Nintendo (Brownie Brown, HAL Laboratory and Nintendo)
ESRB Rating: N/A, Cero A for All Ages.
Pros: Same kitchy graphical appearance as previous entries, interesting story with lots of humorous bits, social commentary and drama, it’s fairly challenging, players get to see different characters’ sides of the story as they progress and a fantastic fan translation is available. The soundtrack is also amazing.
Cons: Ties to other entries in the series aren’t immediately evident. It’s a bit darker than Mother and Earthbound/Mother 2, which may surprise some fans.
Overall Score: 10/10

Earthbound, aka Mother 2, is an undisputed SNES classic. People around the world love it for its whimsicle story and appearance, as well as its surprising amount of depth and overall optimistic message. It’s a mandatory requirement that anyone who ever owned an SNES has to have played that game.

Which makes it all the sadder that Mother 3, a game that surpasses both of its predecessors’ excellence, remains trapped in Japan. Nintendo never took a chance on its localization. As a result, the best entry in the series is a Japan-exclusive. Fortunately, the Game Boy Advance was region-free and fans took up the monumental task of translating this exceptional RPG.

Revenge, salvation and the Pigmask Army.

The Nowhere Islands have been invaded by a mysterious force known as the Pigmask Army. They’re fearsome bullies dressed as pigs who are disrupting nature in favor of completely overrunning everything with the latest, polluting technology and creating a police state.

This is most evident in Tazmily Village, where Mother 3‘s story begins. Lucas, his twin brother Claus, his mother Hinawa and his father Flint are there visiting Hinawa’s father. The trip to the peaceful village, where people even barter rather than use money, goes horribly wrong. The Pigmask Army has corrupted the gentle wildlife, making them murderous with cybernetic experiments. The family is torn apart.

The rest of the game follows Lucas, Boney the dog, Kumatora the princess, Duster the thief, Salsa the monkey and Flint as they develop PSI abilities and attempt to topple the Pigmask Army’s regime.

Something old and something new mashed-up into a perfect, turn-based RPG

Mother 3 is full of surprises. When the adventure first begins, the only similarities to the previous Mother games are the music, graphics and battle system. All three games possessed wonderful soundtrack with unique tracks that perfectly fit every situation, cartoonish graphics that portrayed real-world animals, people and generic locations and a turn-based battle system were enemy sprites are static and the backgrounds are brightly colored and moving. Eventually, other ties to Mother and Mother 2 show up, but for the most part the game stands on its own as a full, fantastic entry which can be enjoyed with no other knowledge of the series.

The biggest shocks come from the story’s content and presentation. The adventure is organized into chapters and even though Lucas is our hero, other heroes and heroines have their own chapters to provide a better understanding of the Pigmask Army and the challenges each character faces. This is a good thing, even though it may seem like it could stifle the player and prevent him or her from going anywhere at any time. It gives each character a chance to shine and also helps the player focus on what’s going on with the story. There are side-quests, but the overall story is so strong that this chapter system helps keep you organized and involved in the character’s struggles.

Mother 3 is also much darker than the original two games. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but people do die in the game. People you normally would never expect to die. It will happen suddenly and will provide motivation for characters throughout the entire game. It’s very unexpected, as are some other choices like the chimera creatures made up of multiple, genetically engineered animals that act as enemies. I believe that it helps show how the series has matured as grown, as it is able to address and include these kinds of serious issues while still maintaining the humorous tone and script the Mother series is known for. So things will be dramatic and serious, offering suggestions as to what experimentation, consumerism and unchecked government could destroy a peaceful society, you also find funny little insights about cows, ghosts and fight enemies like giant, spineless lobsters.

Nintendo’s biggest mistake wasn’t the Virtual Boy, it was not releasing Mother 3 worldwide.

Mother 3 is just amazing. It perfectly caps off the series by offering a slightly more mature story, which is appropriate since fans of the original Mother and Mother 2 are now grown. It also offers multiple morals in such a way that players are able to absorb and understand them without feeling they they are being preached to. The graphics are also a perfect callback to Mother 2 and the overall experience is simple, yet complex. It’s the perfect GBA RPG and the gaming world is worse-off for it never having received an official English release.

Now, while I don’t condone piracy, the team has put together a perfect Mother 3 fan translation patch that can be applied to Japanese Mother 3 roms. It maintains the feel of the series while also making it perfectly accessible to newcomers. It’s nice to know it’s there as it shows just how much love there is for this cult classic. Just know that downloading the game without owning it is 100% wrong.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports talks about the Love Plus series.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports looked at the Ace Attorney series

Follow Jenni on Twitter for more import game updates and general fangirl enthusiasm!

Popularity: 3% [?]

Important Importables: Marvelous Entertainment

February 4, 2012 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: Marvelous Entertainment

Every once in a while, it’s nice to look back at a developer or publisher to learn more about them and acknowledge the good they’ve done in bringing people worthwhile games to play. A major player in Japan is Marvelous Entertainment. Surprisingly, people may not realize that Marvelous may have even had a hand in getting games released in North America and Europe as well. So let’s take some time to relax and look briefly at Marvelous and some Marvelous games you should be playing.

Well, that’s just Marvelous!

The first thing you have to know about Marvelous has one of the best company names ever. I mean, it’s Marvelous Entertainment! You can’t beat that.

Next, you have to know that it’s involved in more than just the video game industry. It produces TV shows, movies, plays and also owns the Artland animation studio and Delfi Sound studio. So while we’re focusing on its gaming presence today, it’s good to know that the company creates lots of good things.

Also, Marvelous Entertainment is primarily a publisher. While it’s true that it has been involved in the development of some games, mainly entries in the Harvest Moon series, it mainly acts as a publisher for other developers’ games. It has worked quite frequently with Imageepoch, Neverland, Hudson Soft, ArtePiazza, Vanillaware and Grasshopper Manufacture. So while you may not see Marvelous’ name on the box of the game you’re playing, there’s still a good chance it had something to do with its creation.

Marvelous Entertainment also does a lot of work outside of Japan. It established Rising Star Games, its European branch, back in 2004 with Bergsala AB. That way, it could have an easier game of getting its games into Europe. It sold its part of Rising Star Games in 2010, though it still works with the company on occasion. Then, in 2005, Marvelous acquired AQ Interactive and turned it into Marvelous Entertainment USA. In addition, it has a co-publishing partnership with the U.S. based XSEED games that started back in 2008. The company also allows other companies, like Natsume and Atlus, to publish its games so a larger audience can enjoy them.

These are Marvelous games.

If there’s one series that is practically synonymous with Marvelous, it’s Harvest Moon. It’s the company’s hallmark series, including the Rune Factory spin-off, and is part of the reason why the company has become as successful as it is. It happened with good reason too. Despite the occasional small bug or glitch, the Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games are mostly solid, well made and entertaining adventures for people who want to play a farming-life sim or take part in an action RPG that occasionally asks you to farm or make friends.

Those aren’t the only games the company is responsible for, as it’s had a number of incredible games released throughout the years. Here are a few in particular that are available in English and deserve some love.

  • Avalon Code (DS): The world is ending, and players must catalog everything in a massive book so it can be remade after the apocolypse and everything restored. It is an action RPG and was released in North America in 2008.
  • Contact (DS): The player is using the DS to “control” a boy named Terry and make him help a mysterious Professor collect power cells while avoiding CosmoNOT terrorists. It is an action RPG and was released in North America in 2006.
  • Fate/Extra (PSP): A young man or woman finds him or herself caught up in the Holy Grail War. Only with the help of a Servant can the new magus survive and perhaps have one wish granted. It is a turn-based RPG and was released in North America in 2011.
  • Half-Minute Hero (PSP): Players control a hero, evil lord, princess or knight and get each of them through 30 second adventures to save the world. It has RPG, strategy, action and shooter modes and was released in North America in 2009. It was updated and ported to the Xbox 360 as an XBLA title in 2011.
  • Little King’s Story (Wii): Corobo is the newly crowned king of Alpoko and it is up to him to get his followers to build up the kingdom to make it a wonderful place to live. It is a combination life sim and real time strategic RPG and was released in North America in 2009.
  • Luminous Arc (DS): People in the Cardinal Kingdom and throughout the world are taught witches are bad, but a young knight named Leon and his friends learn there’s more to the story and the world is in danger. It is a strategic RPG with visual novel elements and was released in North America in 2007.
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii): Players travel across Japan either as the fugitive, amnesiac ninja Kisuke who’s trying to prove his innocence or as the possessed princess Momohime trying to flee to safety while completing the spirit of the man possessing her. It is an action RPG and was released in North America in 2009.
  • No More Heroes (Wii): Travis Touchdown takes an assassination job to pay for a beam katana he bought online, ends up becoming the 11th ranked assassin by the United Assassins Association and has to keep killing and trying to be number 1 or all other wannabe assassins will hunt him down. It is an action RPG and was released in North America in 2008. An updated port was released on the PS3 in 2011.

If you are only going to try a few, then definitely go for Avalon Code, No More Heroes and Contact!

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports looks into the nD.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports talked about the GP2X, Wiz and Caanoo.

Follow Jenni on Twitter for more import game updates and general fangirl enthusiasm!

Popularity: 3% [?]

Ace Attorney live-action movie will be released worldwide

February 2, 2012 - 3:00 am No Comments

Ace Attorney live-action movie will be released worldwide

If you haven’t been paying attention to the Ace Attorney live-action movie adaptation, you may want to start. It turns out it won’t be trapped in Japan. Takashi Miike, the director, was on hand when the movie was shown at the Netherlands International Film Festival Rotterdam and said that it will be released worldwide. Granted, it likely won’t be released in theaters worldwide, but that does mean everyone, everywhere will be able to see it.

Miike confirmed that there will be both subtitles and voice-over dubs for the Ace Attorney movie in different regions. This will include full localizations. So you don’t have to worry about hearing names like Ryuuichi Naruhodou and Reiji Mitsurugi and wonder who those people are. (Phoenix Wright and Edgeworth, in case you were wondering.) He didn’t have any kind of release schedule, but that’s to be expected since the release question came up during a question and answer segment after the film.

To help get you ready, here’s a trailer that Ash from the Ace Attorney Court Records fansite translated.

If you’ve played the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game, then you know what will happen in the movie. It’s loosely based on the major cases from that entry, in particular the cases Turnabout Sisters and Rise from the Ashes.

The Ace Attorney movie will begin its Japanese theater run on February 11, 2012. The three main stars are Hiroki Narimiya as Phoenix Wright, Takumi Saitou as Miles Edgeworth and Mirei Kiritani as Maya Fey.

Read [Twitch Film] Site [Gyakuten Saiban (Japanese)]

Popularity: 1% [?]

Japan Import: A Magician’s Night: Witch on the Holy Night demo released

February 2, 2012 - 3:00 am No Comments

Japan Import: A Magician’s Night: Witch on the Holy Night demo released

Good news for Type Moon fans, it’s time to test out A Magician’s Night: Witch on the Holy Night! That’s the latest Type Moon visual novel. An updated version of the demo has just been released and is waiting to be sampled

A Magician’s Night is a visual novel, but it’s a little different than ones to which people in North America have grown accustomed. It isn’t like a choose-your-own-adventure, where you get to make decisions as you play. It’s a kinetic visual novel. That means you make no choices. You just read along with the story while watching the characters interact on screen. It’s more similar to a graphic novel.

Playing may provide a sense of deja vu for some people. A Magician’s Night goes into the backstory of Aoki Aozaki, from Tsukihime. Many details about this particular VN haven’t been released yet, despite it having an April 12, 2012 release date. Aoki is a magus, and this visual novel will look at what her life was like back when she was in high school and how she became Alice Kuonji’s friend, her relationship with a normal man named Shizuki and show more about how she relates to her older sister Touko.

You can head off and download the A Magician’s Night: Witch on the Holy Night demo right now, provided you have a Windows PC. It’s in the “Special” section and is about a 600mb download. Just bare in mind that it is an unvoiced game and will be very text heavy with some advanced kanji. Don’t worry about adult content, as this is an all ages game. Even if you have trouble understanding it, I guess you could just enjoy the artwork.

Read [ (Japanese)] Site [Witch on the Holy Night (Japanese)]

Popularity: 4% [?]

Square Enix’ next game is Gunslinger Stratos, uses Orochi Engine

February 2, 2012 - 3:00 am No Comments

Square Enix’ next game is Gunslinger Stratos, uses Orochi Engine

The Summer 2012 arcade release of Gunslinger Stratos is getting close, which means more details about the game’s abilities and development process are trickling out. Square Enix and Byking just revealed a pretty interesting tidbit today, in fact. It turns out this arcade shooter was made using the Orochi Engine developed by Silicon Studio. It was used to speed up development and make the game generally look better.

Gunslinger Stratos should feel familiar for people who play light gun games. You battle various things, shooting like crazy in the hopes you’re the last one standing. The twist is that here, you have two guns. You can then arrange them to use both at once, use a side-arm style gun or use a huge rocket launcher. Those are just general ideas though, as there will be tons of guns and each playable character has different armory options.

Not to mention it will have tons of multiplayer options. You can team up for cooperative play against the computer or other groups of players. You could also go for one on one versus matches. There are also single player missions, for people who prefer to play alone or who want to battle with people around the nation.

The Orochi Engine was used to make 3D Dot Game Heroes for the PS3. It is also going to be put to work on the Vita. Most notably, the engine is designed to make it easy to port arcade games to consoles. So if Square Enix is going to be using it for arcade games, then it could make it much easier to create home versions of said games.

Odds are, we’ll never see this in North America, but you never know. Gameworks and other arcades sometimes will import Japanese machines. Or, Gunslinger Stratos could be a surprise hit and Square Enix could decide to make a console port. For now, just look on in envy.

Read [Andriasang] Also Read [ (Japanese)]

Popularity: 3% [?]

Japan Import: Denpa Ningen RPG needs a worldwide release

February 2, 2012 - 3:00 am No Comments

Japan Import: Denpa Ningen RPG needs a worldwide release

Japan is getting a really awesome 3DS eShop game on February 8, 2012 and I think it’s exactly what the North American and European eShops need. It’s Denpa Ningen RPG (Radio Wave People RPG), an AR game that makes good use of the 3DS cameras and is also an RPG. Intrigued? It gets better. It’s being made by Genius Sonority, a company that developed Pokemon Colosseum, Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness and Dragon Quest Swords.

In Denpa Ningen RPG, players control a special camera (the 3DS) that allows people to see the Denpa Ningen inhabiting their world. If you see one you need, you can zoom in and recruit it. That character then becomes a member of your party in a quest to fight against a demon king and his monster minions. The demon king and his monsters have kidnapped innocent people and are engaging in the usual villainous deeds. Only the party you form can stop him.

Here’s a general trailer showing Denpa Ningen catching and dungeon crawling.

As you can see, the RPG part has a standard turn-based RPG vibe. Your party explores dungeons, finds treasures and rescues people. You can even find different buildings to unlock areas of the island that’s fallen under the demon king’s rule. Do well, and you’ll restore it to its former glory.

It’ll probably be another year or so before a 3DS Pokemon game is released and a game like Denpa Ningen RPG would do a great job of filling the void. I mean, it uses the 3DS’ unique abilities and offers a full RPG experience. The only thing better would be if there were StreetPass capabilities for swapping Denpa Ningen or SpotPass to allow for coop or versus battles.

If you have a Japanese 3DS, you can download the Ningen Denpa RPG demo on February 1, 2012. Then, a week later, you can pay ¥800 (~$10.50) for the full game.

Read [ (Japanese)] Also Read [Siliconera]

Popularity: 1% [?]

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