Akihabara Shopping: Cool Releases In Japan 28 November – 4 December 2011 – Cheap Yakuza Edition

Akihabara Shopping: Cool Releases In Japan 28 November – 4 December 2011 – Cheap Yakuza Edition

Welcome to the seventh “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. Don’t read too much in the headline by the way, I was just trying to be funny.

This week sees the beginning of December, and of the Holiday season in Japan. Despite the fact that fewer that one percent of the Japanese population is Christian, in the land of the rising sun Christmas is serious business and their Christmas cakes are the best I ever ate (especially in Sapporo).

Sega seems to be entering a giving (and receiving) mood, and on December the 1st it’s gonna unleash the cheap Yakuza on the country. With that silly pun I mean that Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4, Yakuza Kenzan and Yakuza Black Panther are all going to be re-released on the same day as part of the PS3 THE BEST and PSP THE BEST bargain lines. If you’re bummed about the fact that we didn’t see (and probably we’ll never see) two of those awesome games in the West, I feel your pain.

I won’t go in detail about the games since it’s just a bargain re-release, but I found it noteworthy since it’s four games of the same franchise released at the same time. It made for a great headline too.

Let’s move to the real big game of the week: Mobile Suit Gundam EXTREME VS. (機動戦士ガンダム EXTREME VS. ). I posted quite a lot of news about it, since Namco Bandai never skimps on the screenshots, giving us news-hungry writers something to show you quite often. The game will be released on PS3 on December the 1st (get used to the date, everything releases on December the 1st this week) for PS3, and it’s the port of an arcade fighting game, part of the Gundam vs Gundam series.

Everyone talks about Street Fighter X Tekken (and the other way around) like it was the first partnership between Capcom and Namco Bandai, but it isn’t. The two companies have been working together (Namco Bandai as a publisher and Capcom as a developer) on the Gundam vs Gundam series for a while, and EXTREME VS. is the latest result of that collaboration.

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The structure of the game is fairly simple, you get a metric ton of Gundam Mobile Suits from basically every series, and get to chose between them to face a series of battle scenarios and massive bosses (the well known Mobile Armor that appear here and there in basically every Gundam series). Other than that, the gameplay is pretty much similar to its predecessors, with a few additions and shiny HD graphics.

You can check a trailer below (actually it’s a trailer of the arcade version). If you feel that the song sounds familiar, that’s because it does. It’s “the Catalyst” by Linkin Park, that serves as the the song for the game. Surprised? Don’t be. The collaboration between Bandai and Linkin Park isn’t new. They even released a Linkin Park themed Gunpla kit.

The second title for this week is a treat for fans of the Japanese Tokusatsu (live action superhero series) genre: Kamen Rider: Climax Heroes Fourze (仮面ライダー クライマックスヒーローズ フォーゼ) , that will be released on Wii and PSP on December the 1st. The funny part is that it looks basically the same on both consoles. Well… I guess you can find it funny or sad, depending on your point of view.

Climax Heroes Fourze is the foruth game of the Kamen Rider: Climax Heroes series, started on the PS2 in 2009. It’s also part of the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Kamen Raider series since the very first Go Go Kamen Rider in 1971.

As you may very well imagine, in 40 years of movies and TV series, a veritable load of different versions of the popular Masked Raider have accumulated, and this fighting game has them all. If you ever saw more than 5% of them, you earn 100 respect points.

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The gameplay itself is classic fighting game fare with multiple tag team options added, for what gameplay is concerned, but hey, it’s Kamen Raider, what’s not to love? It’s actually a pity that the series didn’t get more visibility in the west: they’re arguably quite a lot better than the more well known Super Sentai (the series that spawned the Saban-powered horror named Power Rangers). Anyway, you can check out a trailer of the Wii version below.

It’s been a couple weeks since I talked about a visual novel, so I’m going to close today’s episode with one: Ever17, that will be released for Xbox 360 (yeah, you read it correctly)  guess when? Yeah on December the 1st.

Despite the fact that in Japan the installed base of the Xbox 360 is quite on the microscopic side, there’s a flourishing market of visual novels for the platform, mostly because it’s easier to code and to port PC games for it. While this is indeed a remake of a massively popular visual novel already released on PC, PS2, Dreamcast and PSP since 2002, it actually includes a lot of new content and scenes, and the characters have been redesigned from scratch in 3D for the dialogue scenes (I actually am not sure if they really look better like this).

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The story is quite complex (a common trait of visual novels), and revolves around seven characters (two males and five females) trapped due to an incident in an underwater theme park named LeMU, as they try to escape and return to the surface.

The biggest problem is that LeMU is several meters underwater, and the structure is giving-in to the water pressure. leaving them only 119 hours to escape and possibly to uncover the mysteries behind the incident that put tham in such a tragic predicament.  Of course a whole lot of romance is involved. This is a Japanese visual novel, what did you expect?

You can check the trailer just below to give a look at the upgraded Xbox 360 visuals. It feels so next-gen…

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!