Akihabara Shopping: Cool Releases In Japan 5 – 11 December 2011 – Monster Hunter vs Skyrim Edition

on December 4, 2011 6:30 PM

Welcome to the eight “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, 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. 

The first big game that will be released in Japan this week, and to be precise on December the 8th, won’t be coming from Japan at all. It’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I expect it to do very well in the land of the Rising Sun. Not only it has been marketed extensively, but Oblivion was received very positively there. It may not top the sales charts, as Japanese gamers  are quite big on moddable games (some of the best mods for Oblivion came from Japan), and the PC market for The Elder Scrolls franchise in Japan is much bigger than what many would expect. Unfortunately Media Create doesn’t track PC sales at all.

Personally, I hope that Japan will love Skyrim as much as it loved Oblivion as the diversity Japanese modders bring to the modding community, especially in relation to outfits and armor, is definitely something I can appreciate. Many of the most hardcore Elder Scrolls fans don’t appreciate the fact that such influx often isn’t exactly lore-appropriate, but personally I don’t mind at all. When you play a game for several years, lore tends to fade in the distance, compared to experimentation and novelty.

But let’s move to the Elepha… ahem, the monster in the room:  Monster Hunter 3 G (モンスターハンター3G). The game, that will be released on December the 10th, marks the move of the franchise (or at last of its biggest portable installments) from the PSP to the 3DS, and boy, that seriously pissed some people off in Japan. If you think our N4G has the most rabid fanboys, you may want (if you can read Japanese) to check 2chan and think again.

The game is a sequel to Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii, and while it pretty much follows the classic formula of Monster Hunter games, it also involves quite a lot of new features like dynamic shadows, a new targeting system and new monsters. It can easily be said that (graphics aside) it’s much more similar to Monster Hunter Tri than to Monster Hunter Portable 3rd for the PSP.

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One thing is pretty much for sure: it’s time for the Japanese trains to fill up with youngsters playing Monster Hunter again, and that’s probably going to last quite a while. Some of them will wield a much fatter 3DS, as the game also comes in a bundle with the new and unsightly slidepad addon, that isn’t mandatory, but enables a more comfortable twin stick control.

You can check out the latest, and definitely beautiful, cinematic trailer below.

Let’s move to something completely different, and a lot more “serious”. December the 9th is a rather peculiar date for gaming in Japan, as not one, but two Go simulators will be released. Yudansha no Tame no Igo (有段者のための囲碁, that can be translated as Go for the Black Belt) and Sekai Saikyo Ginsei Igo 12 (世界最強銀星囲碁12, that can be translated as World Champion Silver Star Go 12). Both games will be released for PC on the same day. Pretty interesting, isn’t it?

The pictures below show both games. The first two are from Yudansha no Tame no Igo and the second pair is from Sekai Saikyo Ginsei Igo 12.

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If you don’t know what Go (or Igo, as the Japanese call it) is, then you may want to check here for a detailed explanation. Suffice to say that it’s an extremely popular board game born in China and deeply rooted in the Japanese culture. Some associate it with Draughts, but the rules are much more complex and effectively so different than the only real common point is the looks.

One could easily say that if you learn to play Go (and Shogi, the Japanese version of Chess), you’ll have learned a significant piece of the Japanese culture.

Both games are advanced simulators, and the price shows quite clearly that we’re not looking at simple minigames: Yudansha no Tame no Igo costs 7,980 yen (little north than 100 dollars. For the sake of comparison this is the usual price for the most costly PS3/Xbox 360 games in Japan) and Sekai Saikyo Ginsei Igo 12 will pull a whole 13,440 yen (173 dollars) out of the pockets of its customers. Even counting the fact that Japan has an higher cost of living and higher wages than the US or Europe, that’s quite on the steep side.

From two “serious” (and seriously costly) games, let’s move to an absolutely hilarious one: Usavich, that will be released on the Nintendo DS on December the 8th.

This game is the adaptation of one of the most funny animated series ever produced. The series by Satoshi Tomioka features two rather weird rabbits (that make Ubisoft’s Rabbids look like serious business): Putin and Kirineko. Both are inmates in a soviet prison. While Kirineko is a clumsy coward with a penchant for mechanics, Putin is half crime lord and half Terminator, with a passion for sneakers. Normally he’s calm and composed, even cold, but when he loses his temper he goes completely berserk, destroying everything in his path, from tanks to skyscrapers.

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The DS adaptation is pretty much a collection of minigames, but words simply cannot do justice to how absolutely hilarious Usavich is (at least the series), so, instead of showing the usual trailer, I’ll embed the first season of the series itself. Don’t worry about understanding the dialogue, because there’s none. You can look for more on youtube if you dare: at your own risk.

The last item for today, as in quite a few episodes of this column, isn’t a game in itself, but an accessory, themed after this week’s titular game and coming directly from Capcom: the Monster Hunter 3G 3DS case.

If your secret dream has always been carrying your portable console in a fake alligator… ahem… I meant absolutely authentic monster skin, in order to boast about your unmatched hunter skills with the ladies, you really cannot miss this one when it releases on December the 10th.

Akihabara Shopping: Cool Releases In Japan 5 - 11 December 2011 - Monster Hunter vs Skyrim Edition

According to the product description, it’s made of authentic skin of Polyurethane and Polyester. I do wonder what kind of monsters those are… I don’t recall ever hunting them, so I’m quite sure they’re new to 3G. 

This was the last one for this week. Do come back next week to see what your friendly neighborhood Japanophile will dig up from Akihabara. Tanoshimi ni!

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.