Important Importables: Digimon

August 26, 2012 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: Digimon

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Okay, so this week I was going to try and simplify the BlazBlue series story. Except when I started to try, I only ended up confusing myself. I had about five paragraphs written up on Calamity Trigger, then realized I messed up and didn’t include some characters and it was a kerfuffle. (Yes, it’s a made up word. Definition? Something one should never, ever attempt to explain in a single column.)

So instead, we’re going to talk about Digimon. It’s the series’ 15th anniversary, after all. Besides, trying to go over its history, games and future will be a lot simpler and won’t give me a headache so terrible that even taking two Aleve won’t help.

From Tamagotchi clone to multimedia phenomenon

If you’re a child of the 80′s and 90′s, you probably remember Digimon’s humble origins. The mid to late 90′s were the time of the virtual pet. While the Tamagotchi was the king, Bandai had a vision. It saw Pokemon taking over the hearts and minds of gamers and saw an opportunity. It could create a Tamagotchi-style virtual pet that would evolve like a pokemon and allow its owner to battle against other Digimon owners. In 1997, the Digimon was born.

Naturally, kids quickly took to the idea. Which meant Bandai couldn’t just stop at Digimon toys. It took the opportunity to flesh out the series and set it apart from the Pokemon and Tamagotchi inspirations by developing anime series and video games that provided an intricate explanation of what Digimon were, how they interacted with people and such. I have to admit, even though Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02 came out when I was in high school, I did occasionally watch the show if I woke up early enough on the weekend and it really wasn’t that bad.

Bandai set Digimon apart from Pokemon by making making the Digital World one parallel to our own. In the case of the animes and video games, players were usually some kind of special person who was given a Digivice and the opportunity to be a Tamer in the Digital World. He or she would then acquire a Digi-egg, which would then hatch into one specific Digimon. This Digimon would basically be an intelligent, anthropomorphic sidekick to the player who would fight in battles against bad Digimon or Digimon Tamers called Hackers. The Digimon could also Digivolve to become more powerful versions of their current form. In case you weren’t keeping count, that’s 11 times I had to use some form of the world “digital” to describe how Digimon works.

While Digimon has faded a bit in terms of popularity outside of Japan, it’s still quite successful there. I mean, there have at least four “generations” of the original Digimon virtual pets, six anime series, nine movies, six graphic novels, a card game and 33 video games.

So what’s Namco Bandai doing for the 15th anniversary?

As I mentioned earlier, 2012 is the 15th anniversary of Digimon as a whole. Which means Namco Bandai is going to seize this opportunity to do all kinds of things with the series. For one, a new arc of the Digimon Xros Wars anime series ran earlier this year. The main focus, however, is going to be on video games. Namco Bandai has three new titles planned. One has already just been released, one will be out in a few weeks and the other will be out next year. Odds are, none will probably be released outside of Japan, but that’s okay because all three games are on region-free devices.

The game that’s already available is Digimon Re:Digitize for the PSP. It actually just came out last month and features a whole new cast and concept. In this variation of Digimon, Taiga is a teenager who plays a Digimon MMO. He then gets pulled into the game, where he must work with Agumon to become strong and protect the Digital World. As usual, there are virtual pet elements as well as battling. Not to mention Taiga can occasionally befriend other Digimon and have more partners. It’s also quite notable because Lili from Tekken makes an appearance, as do Taichi and Sora from the original Digimon Adventure anime.

Digimon Crusader is the second game that will be out soon for iOS owners. It’s based on the Digimon card game and allows you to battle against Digimon or other players with your own Digimon cards to see who’s strongest.

Finally, there’s Digimon Adventure. This is the one that will capture the hearts of people who grew up with Digimon. That’s because it’s an RPG based on the original anime series of the same name. Details aren’t really available yet, since this PSP game was only just announced, but it looks like players will definitely be controlling Taichi and Agumon in the game.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports will review the Vita import game Dokuro, if it arrives from Play-Asia as expected.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports offered a brief overview of Rune Factory’s past and future.

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

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