Welcome to the fifth “episode” of Akihabara Shopping, the weekly column that will give you a small glimpse on the coolest games that will be released next week in Japan. Some of them may sooner or later see a western localization, while many will remain an exclusive luxury for importers and Japanophiles (even because games in Japan cost more or less twice as much as in the US). If you missed last week’s episode, you can check it out here.
Of course this column doesn’t cover all the games, consoles and accessories that will be released in Japan next week, as there’s a whole lot, as always. I’ll try to select the most interesting and quirky for your reading and viewing pleasure. This week is a big one in Japan. Head past the cut to discover why.
Let’s start immediately with the reason I called this one a “big week”: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (二ノ国 白き聖灰の女王, that can be literally translated as “The Queen of White Sacred Ash”). The game is going to be released on November the 17th on the PS3, and it’s a dream collaboration between Level 5, Hayao Miyazaki’s prestigious animation studio Studio Ghibli and the legendary composer Joe Hisaishi.
It’s a JRPG, and if its DS version and what we saw so far of the PS3 version are any indication, it will easily demonstrate to the unbelievers that the genre not only isn’t dead, but it can still deliver games that are better, look better and sound better than basically anything else… On the planet.
If you are one of the few that still haven’t heard me raving about this game, you may still not know what it is about. You will play (because if you’re reading this column means that you are interested in Japanese games, and if you are, you will get this game) a 13 years old boy named Oliver, whose mother dies suddenly. A doll given to him by his mom turns out to be a fairy coming from the alternate fantasy world named Ninokuni.
The fairy gives Oliver a magic book that allows him to travel to Ninokuni, where he’ll have to pretty much save the world and look for a way to save his mother as well.
It may seem overly simple described like this, but it isn’t. The original DS game was publicized with kids playing it, but it has actually been criticized by the Japanese press for being too mature for kids. Bless you Level 5.
And bless you even more for the fact that the game will be localized in the west next spring by Namco Bandai (that seems very keen on localizing quite quickly other developers’ JRPGs, while they’re atrociously slow in localizing their own, when they even do).
Sony is quite evidently pushing a lot on the release of this game, that will also receive a “Magical Edition”, including the game and a special white and golden PS3. You can gawk at one of the latest trailers of the game below.
The second game for this week is targeted at the ladies (but I know quite a few gentlemen that enjoy the genre as well due to the strong romantic component): Angelique: Maren no Rokukishi (アンジェリーク 魔恋の六騎士, Angelique: The Six Knights of Love), and is an Otome Game or, for the ones that are new to this column, a romance-heavy visual novel that features a lady as a protagonist with several male love interests gravitating around her. The Game will be released in Japan on the 17th as well, for the PSP.
The Angelique series is one of the classics between Otome Games in Japan. Developed and published by Koei, it counts several games, two anime TV series, four OVA and two manga, with more bits and bobs added here and there. This time around Tecmo Koei partnered with Idea factory to bring us Maren no Rokukishi.
Despite what you probably think, the main character isn’t named Angelique, but Teresa. She’s a village girl and lived all of her life in the house of the village chief. After being victim of a kidnapping when she was 17, she lost her memories and, although she managed to get home unharmed, she never regained them. After that, it’s her brother Renaud that goes missing.
Teresa sets off to find him, and manages to track him down at a strange fortress, home to a mercenary band commanded by Leviath and including six other knights. In order to discover what’s really happening Teresa joins them, preparing to investigate.
Like all Otome games, Maren Rokukishi has an extremely complex plot, that I won’t spoil further, but you can enjoy a trailer just below.
Finally, let’s get to the last item for this week. As it happens quite often with this column, it’s not a game, but it’s two new colors for the PS3: Splash Blue and Scarlet Red. Both look downright awesome (I have a weak spot for the blue one), and both will probably never be released outside of Japan. You can join me in bemoaning this fact.
They will be released on the 17th, just in time for Ni No Kuni, even if I suspect that most people that will buy a PS3 for Level 5’s beautiful JRPG, will just purchase the Magical Edition, that looks really, really pretty.
Oh, this week Modern Warfare 3 will be released in Japan as well, not that I really care. One thing is almost for sure, though: at least locally Ni No Kuni is going to smash Modern Warfare 3 into the ground and pass it through a grinder sales-wise. Looking at what both games offer in terms of gameplay, graphics, music and basically everything else, I can easily say that, at least in this case, Japan is the only place in the world in which things go as they should.
See you next week!