NDS Lite Launches I Tempest Falls Back I Silmeria Dated I Growlanser Approaching Release I Pokemon Ranger Media I Devil Summoner Media I Before Crisis Draws to Close I Sayonara
Kobayashi March 2, 2006


Well, here I am, back again on the Japandemonium beat. As regular readers should be aware, J is away this week visiting with his family. However, the tide of gaming news out of the east waits for no man; even with his absence, there's quite a bit of fun stuff to report on, so I hope you'll all enjoy. Before we get started, though, allow me to take advantage of my current soapbox to share my latest gaming experiences with you, our readers.

Unfortunately, most of my time is spent away from home, so for me that means that portable games get a whole lot of my playing time. I just recently returned to Final Fantasy IV Advance. I had been on a hiatus with it following my beating the regular game shortly after it was released. Enough time had passed that I figured it was the right moment to give the newly added bonus content, particularly the post-game super-dungeon, a try... and, what do you know? I ended up loving it. The dungeon was long, challenging, well designed, and supremely rewarding. It gives the player the perfect opportunity to get some exposure to the beefed up characters that had previously been benched for the game's final chapter. Despite the dungeon's length, I felt compelled (thanks to the challenging battles and the satisfying character quests) to go through the whole thing, and I felt rewarded at the end due to the sense of accomplishment beating such a nice addition brought. The extra content has definitely left me primed for the Advance ports of Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI, and I'm looking forward to similar additions to those.

After that I began a new game of Sword of Mana, determined to actually complete the game this time around in preparation for playing Children of Mana, one of my most anticipated games currently, when it comes out. That plan was complicated by receiving my European import order of Breath of Fire III and Tales of Eternia for the PSP. My summary judgement on those is: despite minor disappointment that none of the previously deleted content was reinserted into the game, Eternia is glorious, looking just as gorgeous now as it did back when it came out, and playing faster than ever with nonexistant loading. Breath of Fire III doesn't fare so well. The game suffers from atrocious, unacceptable loading issues, pausing for a minimum of around seven seconds before and after each battle. I was shocked at how bad the loading was, and it's hard not to come to the conclusion that this issue renders the game downright unplayable. Then, today brought Super Princess Peach for the DS and Generation of Chaos for the PSP. I haven't played enough of the latter to give any sound opinions on it, but Peach is certainly a treat: while overly easy (at least in the beginning), the game is a wonderfully made homage to old school 2D platforming with great level design, catchy music, fantastic 2D graphics (with quality sprites, backgrounds, and animations), and loads of unlockables. It'll be nice to take breaks between all these portable RPGs with a level or two of Peach here and there. Of course, with Tales of Phantasia Advance coming out next week, I'm actually starting to feel a bit harried. We'll see how that goes.

And now, onto the news.

 NDS Lite Launches
Nintendo DS

One of the biggest pieces of news this week is the launch of Nintendo's latest handheld model, the DS Lite, to Japanese stores in a manner similar to the recent North American launch of the Xbox 360. The remodel was released on March 1 to heavy demand which, much to Nintendo's certain regret, the company was not able to meet. Last minute manufacturing issues caused the company to ship far fewer units than it had originally intended, resulting in long overnight lines in the freezing rain and a whole lot of customers greeted with "Sold Out" signs. In addition, as if the shortages alone weren't enough, the company was only able to provide one of its intended three launch colors. While the Crystal White model made it to stores, the navy and aqua models weren't so lucky.

Despite the shortages, RPG fans can hope that the intense demand bodes well for the sales prospects of the system's launch title, Square Enix's Seiken Densetsu DS: Children of Mana. Below, you can find some pictures highlighting the hysteria surrounding the launch.

Sources: Game Watch

 Tempest Falls Back
Lost Magic

Fans of Namco's Tales series were surely elated when the company revealed that it was developing the first portable entry ever in the main series rather than a Narikiri Dungeon spinoff. Unfortunately, they'll now have to suffer through a bit of bad news, as the company has decided to delay the game, meaning it won't make its fast approaching April release date. Citing a desire to ensure the game is of the absolute highest quality and a lack of satisfaction with its current progress, the company has pushed Tales of the Tempest back to a release on June 8.

 Silmeria Dated
Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria

In more pleasant news, several high profile titles have received brand new release dates, taking them out of the TBA column. The first up is Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria, the prequel to the PlayStation's Valkyrie Profile. The PlayStation 2 title from developer tri-Ace stars the titular hero Silmeria, another of the Norse valkyries tasked by the god Odin with collecting the souls of the dead and training them for the coming conflicts the deities are prophesied to face. The game, set to be published by Square Enix, will be hitting stores in Japan on June 22. A North American release to follow seems likely, but nothing has been revealed at this time.

Source: GameFront

 Growlanser Approaches Release
Growlanser V

Another notable RPG that has just been dated is Atlus' Growlanser V. The game will take the series into a new graphical direction by introducing 3D visuals, a first for Growlanser. Atlus promises, however, to retain the tried-and-true strategy RPG gameplay mixed with a RTS-styled movement system. If you're interested in checking it out, you'll get your chance on May 18. It remains questionable if the game will see a North American release, as Working Designs, the localizer of the second and third titles in the series, is now defunct, and Atlus' US branch passed on Growlanser IV: Wayfarer of Time.

Source: GameFront

 Pokemon Ranger Media

Game Watch has released a hefty amount of new media for the upcoming DS game, Pokemon Ranger. The action RPG puts players directly into the role of rangers, a new class in the Pokemon universe, as they venture into the wilds, fighting on their own but assisted by allied Pokemon. The game appears to be coming along nicely, which is good since it's due to hit Japanese shelves on March 23.

Source: Game Watch

 Devil Summoner Screens
Devil Summoner

Famitsu was kind enough to supply some new screens of Atlus' upcoming Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou for the PlayStation 2. They're a bit small, but they still show off the game's moody atmosphere quite nicely. If you find yourself unsatisfied by the screens, however, be sure to also take a glance at the two new pieces of propaganda, also from the pages of Famitsu.

Source: Famitsu

 Before Crisis Draws to Close
Before Crisis

It's been going strong for a long while now, but it appears that Square Enix's cell phone epic, Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis is finally drawing to a close. The game's twenty-third chapter went live in Japan on February 28, and it sees the saga heading towards its conclusion as the Turks enter the final dungeon in order to challenge the "ultimate summon."

The game is playable on FOMA i-series cell phones, and costs players 525 yen a month. Be sure to extend best wishes to the Turks as they face these trying challenges.

Source: Plus D


It's been a fun column, and I hope you all enjoyed it. Our regular columnist will resume posting next week, so give him a hearty welcome when he returns.

Have fun, kids.

Bryan Boulette

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