nigatsu no juu-ni-nichi

Though the weather outside is frightful.... whew, you can say that again. Normally, February is not the most tempestuous of months when it comes to Japanese weather. This week has not been a normal one for a Japanese February. In all respects (except for the temperature) this week felt like it had come straight out of the June rainy season.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were just a series of recurring downpours. I got caught by surprise the first day, which is why I had to put two pairs of pants and two pairs of socks in the wash on the same day, and still have two pairs of worn-out sneakers drying in my bathtub. I managed to avoid the worst of it Wednesday, but only because the worst of it happened while I was safely indoors and not in transit. Thursday, thankfully, was a public holiday, so I could lie back on the futon and listen to the downpour and the gale-force winds blowing my laundry pole off my balcony without having to go out into that mess.

As of Friday morning, all is sunny and clear... but for how long? Sasuga Nihon. Here, even the weather reports can read like B-grade monster movie summaries....

UFOs are real! Or at least, UFO-catcher games are. These things seem to dominate Japanese game centers, with everything from chocolates to plushies to some rather high-end electronic goods. Not that it's easy to win at one of these things. They're designed to get people to shill out as much yen as possible. I usually just look and walk on by, but on occasion there's something on offer that I can't pass up.

Why, it's Mr. Saturn, the bizarre little E.T. from the Mother / Earthbound series! This just appeared in one of the game centers downtown a few weeks back, featured prominently in the front. For the record, I wasted 500 yen before I finally gave up on getting one of the little guys. At least for this week.

You know, for the longest time I didn't think we covered the Monster Hunter series on this site. Now that we actually have someone reviewing one of the games, I guess I should start including them on the sales lists. Let's just imagine that there's been an MH game on the list every week for the past two and a half years, shall we?

Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 New Arrival! Dragon Quest VI - Realms of Reverie Square Enix
2 New Arrival! End of Eternity (Resonance of Fate) Sega
4 New Arrival! Ar tonelico 3 Gust
7 Last seen at 5 Kingdom Hearts - Birth by Sleep Square Enix
8 New Arrival! End of Eternity (Resonance of Fate) Sega
9 Last seen at 2 Valkyria Chronicles 2 - The Gallian Academy Sega
12 Last seen at 10 Pokémon Heart Gold / Soul Silver Nintendo
13 New Arrival! Shiren the Wanderer 3 - Portable Spike
14 Last seen at 12 Legend of Zelda - Spirit Tracks Nintendo
15 Last seen at 9 Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (PSP the Best) Capcom
19 Last seen at 13 Inazuma Eleven 2 Fire/Blizzard Level Five
24 Last seen at 16 Phantasy Star Portable 2 Sega

To celebrate Monster Hunter's inclusion in the column, we have some tasty goodies to share with you all. Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and Capcom wants everyone to be well stocked with official MH sweets. Melynx and Felines, the cute little mascot cat-things, now come in chocolate and cookie forms.

So if your Valentine is into ad-hoc monster-slaying, this may be the perfect gift for them this weekend.

Source: Dengeki Online

If we're covering the ad-hoc monster-hunting genre now, here's another game we should definitely be covering. I mentioned God Eater last summer, more for the monster designs than anything else, but from all the promotional footage I've been seeing in stores, it's obvious that this game not only plays much the same as MH, but has a definite storyline as well. Bandai-Namco has a promotional short animation that gives a taste of the plot, and the game trailers have promoted the story as much as the gameplay.

Source: Dengeki Online

While we're on a giant monster trip (honestly, I didn't plan on the week turning out this way), we have a fun-looking action title popping up on the horizon. Tentatively titled Majin: The Fallen Land, this looks to be a cooperative adventure game in the style of the Ico series. The promotional material available so far looks promising, at least.

All that is known of the story so far is that it stars a young thief and a strange giant known as the Majin as they wander the land. It's due out sometime this year for the PS3 and XBox 360.

Source: Famitsu Online

And what Friday night monster marathon would be complete without a total flop? By all accounts Nippon Ichi's recently released Last Rebellion seems to fit the bill. Perhaps that's being a bit unfair, but this game certainly isn't making headlines when there are so many other titles in the spotlight. Nippon Ichi is doing its best to promote the game, however, as I found out this week at my local rental / games store:

This is the inside of a fold-out promotional flyer for the game, which is why there's a big white stripe down the middle where it folds in half. The blurb on the righthand side reads "The world of Last Rebellion - This is where it all begins." If you unfold it one more time, this is what you get:

To be honest, this is more the thing I've come to expect from Nippon Ichi -- silly little comics poking fun at its own product. I'd translate these as well, but I'm afraid they wouldn't make much sense if you don't already know the characters a little. Enough to say that the first manga tries to explain a part of the game's battle system to the main character, while the second manga says a few things about taking advantage in combat to recover HP and MP from monsters.

I really hope this game isn't as bad as rumor says.

Source: Nippon Ichi

I've got Family Show to do this weekend! The big performance where the kindergarteners and upper-level graduate classes get to show their stuff! While I am sure it'll be full of minor disasters, as per kindergarten tradition, preparations seem to be going well this year. Wish me luck!

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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