shimotsuki no nijuuroku

It's Thanksgiving week, and obviously I'm not doing anything special for it, apart from some very handsome hand-turkeys now adorning my display board at school. Thanksgiving isn't one of those holidays that's easy to adopt, and in any case I don't think they make domestic ovens big enough for turkeys over here. If you ask a local about kanshasai (the most accurate translation of "thanksgiving festival") they're more likely to think of the frequent sales that department stores and major retailers will hold to "give thanks" to all their wonderful customers.

It is a time for big meals, though. Now that we're at the end of November, offices across Japan are preparing for bonenkai, or end-of-the-year parties for staffers. Technically these parties should be close to the new year, but there's so much competition for good reservations that the bonenkai season has expanded a lot in recent years. They tend to be heavy on the drink and light on the food (not to mention completely lacking in delicious turkey), but hey, my school's bonenkai is this weekend so it might as well count as a Thanksgiving dinner, no?

It's been about three months since the last Lovely Lady Lab update here at JP, and that's too long. We have five ladies for your viewing pleasure, though only two of them are actually from RPGs. Let's start with them first.

First up is Chocolat, heroine of Solatorobo, enjoying a little ride with protagonist Red (the first male to appear in these updates). Everyone should recognize the other lady. Apparently there was a dearth of lovely ladies in upcoming games for that week's issue, so Hiroyuki Maeda went with the natural choice. Not to call her names, but if Fran were any more of a bunny then Hugh Hefner would be on the phone asking for a photo spread.

Our non-RPG ladies are just marvelous as well. We have Sylvia from No More Heroes, Samus Aran from Metroid, and Yoko Misono, assistant to the great detective Saburo Jindouji, whose self-titled DS adventure game appeared on shelves two weeks ago.

Source: Famitsu Weekly

Two weeks back in Famitsu, that magazine had a present for regular readers. Tucked between the pages was a standing-style calendar featuring the cast of Tactics Ogre - Let Us Cling Together. So here's what's going to be sitting on my desk for the next twelve months.

And here's what it looks like when put together.

Source: Famitsu Weekly
Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 New arrival! Tactics Ogre - Let Us Cling Together Square Enix
5 Last seen at 4 Pokémon Black/White Nintendo
6 Last seen at 1 God Eater Burst Bandai-Namco
11 Last seen at 5 Fallout: New Vegas Bethesda
14 Last seen at 6 Radiant Historia Atlus
18 Last seen at 13 Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (PSP the Best) Capcom
20 Last seen at 10 Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Nintendo
24 Last seen at 14 Kingdom Hearts re:Coded Square Enix

Our first actual game update of the week is Magical Fantasista, a mobile-phone game turned DSi-ware title from G-Mode. It appears to be a straight-up, traditional fantasy title, with special attacks learned from equippable items called Stellae. While neither Dengeki nor the game's own website give much detail on the story, the game as a whole looks interesting enough.

And this is why we cover phone titles -- because they might just get a lucky break.

Source: Dengeki Online

RPGs have crossed a lot of genre boundaries over the years. It's practically a characteristic of the genre now, and one that makes it so hard to define them properly. The next DSi title we have for today is not only a purposeful genre fusion, but even insists on having its title reflect that. RPG Escape Game borrows features from the "Escape the Room" genre of adventure games. But who's escaping from what?

These two are the escapees. Princess Margarita and Gimlet, knight in training, have gotten themselves stuck in a labyrinth full of traps and monsters. Between battling and puzzle-solving, it looks like they have their work cut out for them. To help them out, the game allows players to scribble notes onto the map for quick reference to item locations and special landmarks.

Anyone need a "Get out of jail free" card?

Source: Dengeki Online

Remakes seem to be a theme this week. Both swag item articles are for remakes, one of the two DSi titles is a remake, the title after this section is a remake, and then there's the game of the moment -- Tears to Tiara - Earth's Wreath Portable, which is a PSP port of a PS3 remake of a PC title. Is that clear enough for everyone? This one has been popping up on Japandemonium since before I started writing it, and here it is again. Reading through the material on hand, it really does sound like an interesting title though. I might pick up the PS3 version sometime if I can find it at a good price. A demo of the PSP version is available for download right now, but no PSP for me. Anyhoo, I'm just posting the PSP screens today. No point in reiterating the plot yet again.

Source: Dengei Online

As I said above, this next title is also a remake. Atelier Violet - Alchemist of Gramnad II was the last Atelier game for the PS2. The heroine, carrot-obsessed Violet, and her brother have just been left in charge of the family store while their parents go on a three-year trip (Violet was supposed to have gone along, but she refuses to go anywhere she can't have carrots for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). While minding the shop, she gets caught up in the Mayor's ambitious plans to promote Karotte Village and make it the place to visit in western Gramnad.

Luckily for everyone involved, Violet's been taking lessons from a traveling alchemist, and may actually be able to contribute something after all. If she's really successful, Mom and Dad might even extend their trip, allowing Violet free run for another two years. Here's a sample of screens for Violet at work. Work, Violet! Work!

Here are a few more of Violet outside of the workshop, doing things like shopping, gathering, fighting -- in other words, playing around. Play, Violet! Play! (I think I've been reading too many children's books at work)

So far, things are looking pretty much the way they did before, allowing for technical differences between the PS2 and the PSP. However, sources say that at least one new ending has been added. And then there are these ladies:

The one on the left, Sphere, appeared in Gust's mysterious New Year's cards last winter, and turned out to be a new character in the remake of Atelier Judie - Alchemist of Gramnad. It seems fitting that she appear in the sequel. The girl in blue, appropriately named Lapis, is somehow connected to Sphere, and seems quite afraid of her. The third girl, Nanami Schmidt, is definitely the most normal-looking of the three. A sharp-tongued go-getter, she's recently moved to Karotte Village with the intent of starting her own shop. I'm more curious about her strong resemblance, in appearance and in character, to a shopkeeper named Nanami Selbein from Atelier Lina. Ah, it's probably just a coincidence....

Finally, we have some nice splash pages to show off. These are all in-game images, though I can't say I recognize all of them from my time with this game.

I do hope that one scene where Violet gets drunk off her butt on carrot liqueur doesn't hurt this game's chances of localization, though....

Source: Famitsu Online

And to end this week's column, we have music! When SaGa 3 DS - Shadow or Light comes out in January, it will be with a special soundtrack attached.

Of the five tracks on this CD, two are taken from the original SaGa 3 and two are from the remake. The fifth track is a new version of the opening theme done by Ryuuji Sasai, who did the music for SaGa 3, Mystic Quest, and Rudra no Hihou. He currently plays bass for a Queen tribute band.

That's not the only soundtrack Square Enix is putting out this season, however. Just this Wednesday, Christmas Collections - music from Square Enix hit the shelves with seven tracks for the low price of 1600 yen (and trust me, for Japanese media, that IS low.)

Here's the playlist. It is surprisingly diverse.

Title Game Composed by Arranged by
"Jeuno - Starlight Celebration" Final Fantasy XI Naoshi Mizuta Naoshi Mizuta
"Captain Square ~ hoshikuzu no captain" Live A Live Yoko Shimomura Yuki Hirose & Yasuhiro Yamanaka
"Gold Saucer ~ Sorakakeru Highwind" Christmas ver. Final Fantasy VII Nobuo Uematsu Tsuyoshi Sekito & Yasuhiro Yamanaka
"Magic School Geo" Christmas ver. Legend of Mana Yoko Shimomura Hirosato Noda
"Yearnings of the Wind" Christmas ver. Chrono Trigger Yasunori Mitsuda Ryo Yamazaki
"Botshaft" SaGa Frontier 2 Masashi Hamauzu Mitsuto Suzuki
"Chocobo's Happy Christmas" Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon Masashi Hamauzu Masashi Hamauzu

Source: Famitsu Online

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the States! I hope you all aren't so groggy on turkey and mashed potatoes (lucky dogs!) that you can't read this. I'm going to have a nice dinner somewhere with my girlfriend tonight, so I'll just post this a little earlier than usual and be on my way.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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