shoutsuki no juu-yon-nichi

Yesterday I got a birthday present from my brother in the mail. I found it right as I left to get lunch, so I decided to open it en route. From the size, shape, and pre-Christmas conversations we'd had, I figured it was a CD. When I finally got the wrapping open, however, something small and black flew out.

Plink, plink, plink, splosh. Down the storm-drain it went. Geeze, hope it wasn't too important... *checks the customs manifest* ... a USB DRIVE?!

This is how I got to find out how to contact City Services and get them to open up storm drains for me.

Thankfully one of my neighbors was nearby to help, since I didn't even know the words for half the things I needed to say. As it turns out, the magic phrase was Sokkou ni otoshimono ga aru! (Ack! I dropped something down the gutter!) In about half an hour, a pair of city workers were at my apartment with crowbars and an odd sort of vise to pry up the concrete blocks which lay over most of the storm gutters in Japan. Under the deceptively shallow water of the gutter lay five or six centimeters of sulferous anaerobic black sludge which had to be shoveled out and sifted a bit before the little USB could be uncovered.

The amazing thing is, after 40 minutes in that muck it still works. As for the rest of the package, I'm happy to say I got Scribblenauts exactly two weeks before its Japanese release. Yay.

Last week's column was a time for Christmas greetings, but that's done with for now. This week, it's time for new year's greetings!

The RPG references are a little slim this year. Here are the companies, by page:

Page 1: Idea Factory & Compile Heart (with Hyperdimension Neptunia), Arc System Works, Irem Software, Aqua Plus.

Page 2: Acquire, ASCII Media Works, Alchemist, Ignition, ImageEpoch (with the JRPG logo).

Page 3: AQ Interactive, SNK Playmore, MTO, Gust (with Atelier Violet), Kadokawa Games.

Page 4: Kadokawa Publishing, Capcom (with Monster Hunter Portable 3rd), Cave; Koei, Codemasters.

Page 5: Konami; Success (with Metal Saga), Jaleco, Square Enix (with SaGa 3), Spike.

Page 6: Sega (with Yakuza PSP : Of the End), SCE, Chunsoft (with Shiren the Wanderer 5), Takara Tomy, D3 Publisher.

Page 7: Nippon Ichi (with Disgaea 4), Nippon Falcom (with Zero no Kiseki), Bandai-Namco, Fuji Road, Broccoli

Page 8: From Software (with Bunny Mecha!), Bethesda Works (with Fallout), the Pokémon Company (with ... well that should be obvious, no?), Marvelous Entertainment (with Yuusha 30 Second), Microsoft.

Page 9: Ubi Soft, Level-5 (with the gals from Ninokuni, Inazuma Eleven, Fantasy Life, and Cardboard Senki), Rocket Company. Also with written greetings from Atlus, Electronic Arts, CyberSoft, THQ, and Hudson.

Source: Reuters
Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 Last seen at 1 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd Capcom
5 Last seen at 4 Pokémon Black/White Nintendo
6 Last seen at 9 Ninokuni - The Mage of Darkness Level-5
9 Last seen at 6 The 3rd Birthday Square Enix
12 Last seen at 8 Inazuma Eleven 3 - The Ogre Level-5
17 Last seen at 13 Super Fossil Fighters Nintendo
26 Last seen at 30 Shining Hearts Sega
30 Risen from the depths Tales of Graces F Bandai-Namco

Bandai-Namco's Super Robot Wars series is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so of course there's a new title in the works. In last week's Famitsu, the company announced Dainiji Super Robot Taisen Z. The "Dainiji" part means "the second," but carries a different sort of feel to it than the usual Roman numerals used by most game series. It's the same prefix used to denote the Second World War, for example. So, the new game's English title might be "The Second Super Robot War Z." That is, if this game ever had a Zippo lighter's chance in Hel of making it out of Japan. It's been made as a direct sequel to the PS2 title Super Robot Wars Z apparently.

The selection of robots is pretty wide, and covers series from across three decades. All in all, an improvement over the list of "What the heck" that was Super Robot Wars NEO. Here's the full list of series included in whatever order Dengeki decided to put it in, though I had to google almost all of the names.

Invincible Super Man Zambot 3 (1977) Invicible Steel Man Daitarn 3 (1978)
Trider G7 (1980) Space Emperor God Sigma (1980)
Space Warrior Baldios (1980) Hexademon Godmars (1981)
Blue Gale Xabungle (1982) Armored Trooper Votoms (1983)
Armored Trooper Votoms - The Last Red Shoulder (1985) Armored Trooper Votoms - Red Shoulder Document - Lutz' Ambition (1988)
Armored Trooper Votoms - Belzen Files (2007) Super Dimension Century Orguss ((1983)
Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) Mobile Suite Gundam: Char's Counterattack (1988)
Gundam Wing (1995) Gundam X (1996)
Turn A Gundam (1999) Gundam SEED Destiny (2004)
Gundam 00 - 1st Season (2007) Dancouga - Super Beast Machine God (1985)
Dancouga Nova (2007) Getter Robo Armageddon (1998)
Shin Mazinger Impact Z (2009) Dai-Guard (1999)
The Big O (1999) Overman King Gainer (2002)
Gravion (2002) Genesis of Aquarion (2005)
Code Geass (2006) Gurren Lagann (2007)
Gurren Lagann - Childhood's End (2008) Macross Frontier (2008)
Macross Frontier - The False Songstress Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven: Pocket Full of Rainbows

Man, that was a lot of coding involved in that list. I think I'm going to take a nap now...

Source: Dengeki Online

Here's a brief update on Last Promise Story, the endtimes RPG from Imageepoch. Today's theme is Seles, heroine of the game.

Here's a short video from her point of view, with some gameplay footage included:

Source: Famitsu Online
MegaloSaro asks...

Anyway, Gaijin, have you heard any of the rumors about Dragon Quest X being revealed in V Jump this month? If so, how credible do you think they are?

I answered before in the forum, but I just wanted to make sure that everyone saw this. The answer is yes, there's to be a reveal of some sort in the next issue of V-Jump. The teaser page does not say Dragon Quest X outright, but it features what looks to be a parody of a Toriyama-style dragon. I don't normally get that magazine though, since it's not carried by any local convenience stores, and it's rarely worth the effort to go out of the way on a Friday to pick it up downtown. Also, it's almost 50% more expensive than Famitsu.

Rest assured, as soon as more concrete information surfaces, we'll have it.

Source: V Jump HP
Ocelot asks...

Hiya Gaijin, Happy New Year!

I noticed yet another Wizardry game in the Japanese Jan. release dates. As a fan of the Wizardry series here in the West, I've always been curious about its Japanese counterpart, especially since the series is long-dead here. What are the Japanese Wizardry games like? Are they still old-school dungeon crawlers, or have they had some story injected into them? Are they set in the same fantasy/sci-fi world as our Wizardries, or do the series share nothing but the name?

I wish I knew how to answer this right, but I have very little knowledge of the Wizardry series. I'm not sure why I never got into it, seeing as this series is part of the bedrock of the genre here in Japan. Eiji Hori (of Dragon Quest fame) even lists it as one of his greatest inspirations. I do know however that at least one of the more recent spinoff titles in the series, Wizardry Busin made it to the US as Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land for the PS2. A read-through of an FAQ for that game tells me that it has much the same gameplay as the earlier games of the series as well as some story involved.

Instead, let's talk about that new Wizardry title. Wizardry: Town of Trapped Spirits (changed my mind on how to translate it) is apparently connected in some manner to the 2009 title Dungeon of Captured Souls (or Maze of Imprisoned Souls if you prefer), which was a download-only game for PSN. The "Twin Pack" mentioned in the release date info is a two-for-one deal that offers MoIS and a suite of DLC alongside ToTS.

Here's a story précis, courtesy of Dengeki:

"In the forests surrounding the Kingdom of Diment, there is a town where the fog never clears. Those who venture within are never heard from again. It is said that the evil magician Ty Lu Gar cursed the place, and in the depths of his hatred turned it into a maze of death and despair. Even now, who knows what treasures and power remain sealed within the ruins?"

Okay, so it's not so much a story summary as it is an excuse to go adventuring. This is still a Wizardry game after all. And where there's a wizard, there's an adventuring party:

The standard Human, Elf, Gnome, and Dwarf races all make an appearance. If there are any others, they haven't shown their faces on Dengeki yet. One actual story character has made an appearance, though, and her name is Beatrix. She runs the local watering hole. I'm sure I could make some bad pun about "spirits" in this context but... nah.

And just to set the record straight, here are some game screens to prove that this title is everything fans have come to expect from the Wizardry series:

Source: Dengeki Online
Books and Letters and Games, Oh My!

Hi, I just saw the review for Ni no Kuni and I was wondering what level of Japanese would be required to play that. It sounds like a great game, but I'm not so sure I'd be able to follow what's going on....I picked up Pokemon Black in Japanese and I'm doing well with that (although I have it set to hiragana) but I think that's partly because I already know basically how Pokemon works.


The reading level in Ninokuni depends on how much you want to do in the game. The game has furigana (phonetic notes) over every Chinese symbol in the game, and most of the dialogue is written clearly... except for Shizuku's heavy Kansai accent, but his meaning comes through pretty well too. The game is also aimed at grade-schoolers, so the current goals are usually clearly shown on the top screen during the game or when checking the side-quest menu. Combat skills and messages are all written out in kana, and are usually easy to figure out from context. The biggest hurdle would of course be The Book, which varies considerably in difficulty depending on whether you're reading the data sections or the narrative sections. Any of the game's riddles, especially the Dream World set, would be a problem as well. The toughest ones are all optional, thankfully.

Also, I saw the feature about suggesting names for the new Pokemon. I thought it was really interesting to hear about the meanings behind the names. I'm looking forward to the next installment.


Glad you're enjoying it. It's annoying that one of the first varmints I chose actually got a name announced while I was typing the original draft of the web page, though. Hopefully I'll have better luck with the next round.

Speaking of Pokemon, there are over 600 now aren't there? Do you think there will be 1000+ eventually? Since the goal is to catch them all, it keeps getting harder with each installment. Sometimes I think to myself "If I just replaced each Pokemon with a kanji character, I'd already know over 600 kanji." I think it would be interesting to have a kanji learning game that was actually a game and not just software that happens to be on a game system. I guess when it comes down to it, nothing beats actually studying though. What do you think?


Let's see... 497 as of Diamond/Pearl. Add in 150-some-odd (I'm still not quite sure on how many legendaries in total) in Black/White. We're closing in on the 700 mark, actually. At this rate, the inevitable 3DS sixth-gen game might actually push the list close to the quadruple digits. It's enough to give one a headache, and that's before we get into the topic of the uncountable throng of obsessive fans who get angry when Game Freak fails to make every single new critter a unique powerhouse with no possible comparison to a previous one. Personally, I kind of like the fact that there are several "sets" of Pokémon that are virtually interchangeable in terms of ability. It allows a lot more variety within the same sort of team build.

There are a few kanji-learning games out there, mostly in the adventure genre. But yes, it's largely an untapped market.

I think that's all of my questions for now. Thanks for reading.



No, thank you for reading!

I also came up with a bad pun related to my birthday. I'm 31 this year, which would be san-juu-ichi in Japanese. I said this to myself a few times fast, and then decided I'd declare this the Year of the Sandwich. My girlfriend about kicked me out of the apartment for that one.

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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