Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Famitsu, 3/30.

Missed a week, but.

6/26 Winning Post 6 2008 (Koei) \5040
Summer Hototogisu (Irem) \5040
Autumn Moemoe WW2 (Systemsoft Alpha) undetermined

4/10 Milestone Shooting Collection Karasu Wii (Milestone) \5040
6/26 Tales of Symphonia: Knight of Ratatosk (BanNam) \7140
July Akko de Pon! (Success) undetermined

5/22 Haze (Spike) \7140
5/29 Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (Ubisoft)
6/26 The Darkness (Spike)
June Quake Wars: Enemy Territory (Activision)

Musou Orochi 2 spread; Himiko of Yamatai introduced, as well as a formal bonus system:
Kill 5 enemy generals, all army morale raise
Kill 100 enemy troops, all ally general defense raise
Kill enemy general 10 minutes after battle begins, all ally recover
Kill an enemy general pair, all ally ranged attack bonus
Kill 300 enemy troops, all ally receive less damage from enemy generals

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Metal Gear Solid Arrives on PSN for Japan + 3/21 PS1 Game Update

Metal Gear Solid, among others added to the Japanese psp/psn store this week. Full list below!

Where to buy:
3000 Yen Japanese PSN Ticket (will net you 5 PS1 games)
Playstation Store (for PC/PSP)

PS1 game Full List (600 yen each as usual):
-エリーのアトリエ -ザールブルグの錬金術士2- Atelier Ellie - Alchemist of Salburg 2
-クラッシュ・バンディクー カーニバル - Crash Bandicoot Carnival
-デザエモン Kids! - Dezaemon Kids
-プロ麻雀 極PLUSII - Mahjong game
-マスター・オブ・モンスターズ -暁の賢者達- - Master of Monsters

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New PS1 games on Japanese PSN store 3/12

New PS1 games added to the Japanese psp/psn store this week. Full list below....

Where to buy:
3000 Yen Japanese PSN Ticket (will net you 5 PS1 games)
Playstation Store (for PC/PSP)

Slim pickins this week

PS1 game Full List (600 yen each as usual):
-アディのおくりもの - not a clue
-学校をつくろう!! - School making simulator
-川のぬし釣り-秘境を求めて- - Fishing!
-Spyro the Dragon

Given that this weeks update was crap, I'll recommend some good stuff from prior weeks you may be interested in, even if you dont speak a shred of Japanese!

-Cotton Original - cute 2d shooter
-R-Types - arcade 2d shooter collection
-R-Type Delta - probably the best r-type game there is
-Silent Bomber - action game involving the use of bombs as your primary weapon
-Metal Slug X - alright port of metal slug x, not arcade perfect, but sure does the job
-Money Idol Exchanger - puzzle game that plays similar to magical drop, except with money and slightly different mechanics.

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Famitsu, 2008/3/13

Short this week, it's late

XBOX360 "Lost Planet Colonies" 5/29
XBOX360 "Mr. Driller Online" Spring

PS2"`'Poi' Experience of a Summer」 July
PS2 "Kanuchi: White Wings chapter (LE)" 9/25
PS2 "True Fortune" 2008
PS2 "drasticKiller" 2008

Wii "Bomberman" June

DS "Bleach: the Third Phantom" 6/26
DS "The Tower DS" 6/26
DS "Oden-kun" 6/26
DS "Tiny Baker" June
DS "Pony Friends" June
DS "Cosmet-tic Paradise" 7/10
DS "Chibi Maruko-chan DS: Maru-chan's Town" Summer
DS "Summon Night 2" Summer

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Dark Mist + Expansion - Japanese Impressions

After several weeks of whining about not having a US release of Game Republic's (Folklore, Genji) fantasy twin stick shooter "Dark Mist", I finally plunked down for another PSN ticket and nabbed it, along with the "Depths of Darkness" expansion pack. So far, this is looking like one of the best games on PSN.

Dark Mist plays like the bastard stepchild of an SNES Zelda game, and Neo Contra. You control Artemis (or one of several other characters if you have the expansion) as she traverses small top down view dungeons, one room at a time, occasionally branching off to different paths to grab keys or eliminate room guardians so you can complete labyrinths of increasing complexity. Each labyrinth has a guardian miniboss, and every 5 or so maps you fight a real boss. I have fought a single boss thus far, which had varying attack patterns at different levels of health. Quite engaging, and i hope theres more where that came from.

You can play the game like Neo Contra with "hold direction / position" buttons, or opt to use twin stick shooter type controls. I found it more comfortable to do the latter. Shaking the controller does a melee attack which is mostly used for dispersing the "dark mist" that has spread throughout the dungeon.

The mist, as the games title suggests, plays a large role in the game, making it difficult to see enemies and shots, seemingly lowering your weapons effectiveness, and hiding items and special mist clearing orbs which give you bonuses if you find them really fast. Mist seems to spread if you don't clear it completely, so it can come back to haunt you if you leave some alone for too long and a second set of monsters pops out.

Each character has 3 special attacks that you can level up by collecting powerups dropped by monsters and mist clearing orbs. Collecting one "level" of powerups gives you more consecutive shots of your special weapons. Recharge time is several seconds per shot. You only gain "experience" for the currently equipped special, and you can rotate them at any time. You can take multiple hits, and it seems you get an extra one after the 1st boss. When you die you get a chance to continue or quit, continuing resets your score. You can also pick up where you left off when you quit.

The main game is used to unlock levels for use in time attack, and eventually hard mode will become available, along with other options.

There are some online modes including a battle royale for up to 4(5?) players it seems, but there were no rooms available when i tried to go on for some reason (still looking into that). There are also mode specific leaderboards.

Overall I really enjoyed the few hours I spent with the game and look forward to many more. Can't recommend it enough, and for those like me too impatient to wait for the US release, there is next to no Japanese language in the game outside of options and instructions, so don't be afraid to check it out.

Where to buy:

1000 yen Japanese PSN Ticket
3000 Yen Japanese PSN Ticket
5000 yen Japanese PSN Ticket

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Famitsu, 2008/3/6.

Another Soutahouse week.

XBOX350 "Dragon Ball Z BL" (preorder US)
XBOX360 "Stranglehold" 5/22
XBOX360 "Dodonpachi Daioujou Black Label X" (prov.)
XBOX360 "Ketsui Kizuna Jigoku Tachi X" (prov.)
XBOX360 "Mercenaries 2"
XBOX360 "Battlefield: Bad Company"

PS3 "Dragon Ball Z BL" 6/5 (preorder US)
PS3 "Stranglehold" 6/5
PS3 "Mercenaries 2"
PS3 "Battlefield: Bad Company"

PS2 "Mercenaries 2"

PSP "Racing Journal Portable - 22 Years of JRA Data" 5/15
PSP "Suika" June
PSP "God of War" Summer
PSP "Umihara Kawase"

DS "Zoo Tycoon 2" 3/19
DS "Abacus Anywhere" 6/19
DS "Jigsaw World"
DS "Disgaea"
DS "Edu soft"

More to come.

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Week #3 - Soma Bringer Review

It's been almost 2 years since the last Monolithsoft release, and I've been wondering what they've been up to. So it was surprising when Soma Bringer was announced because it really looks as far from a Monolithsoft game as I would have expected. As an action RPG, and with less attractive art that seems a lot more childish than usual, one would expect this to come from any random developer - but not one known for it's deeper storylines and excellent art direction.

Based on the media released before the release of the game, I had pretty high expectations of the gameplay above all, because the art certainly wasn't the selling point. Fortunately the game delivers strongly on that front. At its heart the game is a dungeon crawler not unlike Diablo or Phantasy Star Universe, but the action elements are geared towards rewarding players for technical skill as well as having a good character build

The break system in the game introduces a timing system where the player gets to decide how to end a series of successive attacks on an enemy resulting in different effects. When enough successive attacks are executed on an enemy, the enemy will go in a Break state, the move you use to break the enemy will determine if the enemy is knocked back, juggled in the air, or knocked down. Based on this launching move, successive attacks while the enemy is still in this state of Break will result in much more damage.

Skills are configured by the player, there are 4 face buttons that each can be mapped with a skill, items are mapped onto the same buttons and the L button toggles between item and attack modes. The game features 8 playable characters and a choice of 6 classes each with completely unique skill sets. The skills sets for each class is also divided into weapon specialities which further seperate character builds even within the same class. With this many options, there's a huge variety of play styles to choose from.

The gameplay is well balanced, and while it is rarely extremely difficult, the game the game is never too easy. Enemies serve largely to wear you down as you progress like in most dungeon crawlers, while the bosses will be the ones that truly pack a punch. The enemy design in the game is excellent, and along with the solid character animations and huge range of weapon designs, it really makes for a pretty solid experience throughout. Aside from the main scenario, the game also features several EX Dungeons that have randomly generated floors, and 2 higher difficulty levels (each unlocked when you beat the main game on the lower difficulty level).

Storywise, the game is divided into a prologue and 6 main Acts. Each Act, like in Diablo, contains a main hub area where you can talk to NPCs, buy items and weapons, and get optional quests. The main hub then leads to various fields and mini-dungeons that eventually lead to the main dungeon of that Act.

The scenario is largely focused on developing the main cast of characters and you learn more about their pasts and relationships with each other as the story progresses. Along the way the worldview is also fleshed out as you travel to different parts of the world and learn more about the people that live in it and the technology that drives the world. It's not as deep or expansive as the Xeno games, but for the genre, it above and beyond what most dungeon crawlers do.

The actual writing and pacing of the game is very much what can be expected from Soraya Saga, but with a lighter touch this time. Even in a smaller scope the script fleshes out events and characters well, and the story on a whole is conclusive but leaves just enough of the worldview and characterizations open to leave you wanting for more.

The most unfortunate part of the game would be the art style. Clearly either Nintendo or Monolithsoft decided that it would be a good idea to try to appeal to kids, probably because of the platform the game is on. The art is mostly childish and generic, and while there are some bright spots in some of the background and location designs, the actual artwork and backgrounds leave much to be desired.

Mitsuda's soundtrack is fantastic as expected, although not quite at the level of his classic work. There are some really solid exploration tracks for fields and dungeons, and the town hub themes are generally unique and create a good atmosphere. What disappointed me a little was the final boss theme which lacked the drive or uniqueness that Mitsuda usually puts into a final encounter theme. Thankfully the story ending tracks more than made up for that and left a lasting impression on the score.

The sound production in general is pretty solid, and the every attack and enemy has convincing effects. Procyon Studio definitely put a solid effort into all areas of the sound in this title, no doubt because it's the first collaboration between Mitsuda and Takahashi since Xenosaga Episode I.

Overall I had a great time with the game, and I strongly recommend it to any action RPG fan looking for a fun dungeon crawling time on the DS. This is one of the best dungeon crawlers on a portable that I've played, and even the poor art direction isn't stopping me from playing it after I've beaten it. There's quite a bit of content even if you're only playing it once, as the game is easily 15-20 hours long. If this is a sign of what to expect from Monolithsoft post-Nintendo takeover, then it's a very good sign indeed.

Featured Products:
Soma Bringer (DS) - $48.90, Out Now!
Soma Bringer OST (3 CDs, 59 tracks) - $31.90, Apr 2nd 2008

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