Japandemonium - Voice Inside Your Head

Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner 2 || Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children - Messiahlyzer || First Day Game Sales for 9/16 || Final TGS RPG List || Final Grumble


Phillip Clayton - September 23, 2004 - 8:12 Eastern Standard Time

So much space to fill, so little to talk about. Luckily, resident staff reviewer and PR Manager Paul Koehler has bestowed us with some commentary this week regarding his recent trip to Japan. So, without further adue, take it away Paul!

Tadaima! Hey everyone, itís Paul ďAmishĒ Koehler, RPGamerís Public Relations Manager and one of the staff reviewers. I had the extraordinary privilege of working as an American Counselor in Japan this summer, teaching English to Japanese students from elementary to high school level.

Iíll confess to you right now that I donít nearly have the inside scoop to give you as Andrew Duff did in one of his columns shortly after he returned to the States. However, going to Japan was an eye-opening experience. Not only was it my first time outside of North America, it was also a look at a completely different culture that has provided us most of the games that all of us who read this site revere so much.

Nevertheless, video games arenít the heart and soul of the culture, either. If any anime fans are reading this, I might add that the word otaku (translation: freak) has all the negative connotations that it does in the states, and then some. Worst of all was a documentary I caught on one of the NHK stations while in an isolated mountain camp in western Aichi prefecture.

It chronicled the adventures of a female anime fan in the Houston area as she prepared for one of the local conventions (Oni-Con, iirc). The coverage wasnít flattering though. Even one of the bands playing at the con mentioned something along the lines of ďWe like the fact that these Americans love our music, but they are a little strange

All cynicism aside, fans of console games will appreciate the trip. First off, thereís the ďpromised landĒ of Akihabara Electric City in Tokyo. Like many of the more popular spots in Tokyo (Shibuya, Asakusa Shrine, Shinjuku, Ueno Park, etc.), itís filled with its share of tourists. Nevertheless, you canít blame anyone for going in whatís often regarded as one of the best areas in the world to get top of the line electronics, and games. I myself picked up Tales of Destiny 2 (PS2), and Mother 1&2 GBA while in the district.

Letís not get mistaken though: like just about everything else in the country, games are going to be put at a much higher price threshold than they are in North America. Case in point: preorders for Dragon Quest VIII were going for over 8000 yen (USD equivalent: ~$72.00).

Even with the price gap, there are plenty of ways to get around it. Since Japanís bubble economy burst in the early 90s, there has been a plethora of discount stores that have popped up across the nation. Besides the ever-present (and quite nice) hyakuen shops, there are your usual video game stores. I want to give props to the Mambo used video game store in Toyohashi, Aichi-ken. There, I was able to pick up strategy guides for Dragon Quest VII and Star Ocean 3, plus a used copy of Tales of Phantasia GBA. Grand total? Under 4000 yen (USD equivalent: ~$36.00).

One other interesting observation: the gap between Japanese and North American/European release dates is closing quickly. A good case study is the upcoming Nintendo DS. Japanese release date? December 2 American release date? November 21. Even many of the students I talked to are starting to get the idea that one of their most famous cultural exports are the games themselves. A good half of the American male staff that I worked with wanted to come to Japan partly because of their experiences with our particular sub-culture. We even had a group of high school girls participate in a mock Kingdom Hearts/Final Fantasy battle skit. It was great.

Thatís that for now. If I get some of my pictures processed in the near future that will be of interest to anyone, Iíll be glad to upload them and tell individual stories later. For now, I must go, but if you read this columnÖ.arigatou gozaimasu!


Thanks Paul. I have no idea what "-30-" means, or even if it was intended to be included here, and I definately don't know what "arigatou gozaimasu" means. So I'll just pretend that the latter is some kind of ages old Japanese proverb that means "May this column rock, and its host mysteriously acquire some good games in the mail through an anonymous source."

Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner 2

Atlus has announced that a sequel to Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner is in the works, as well as provided the world with the first details of the game. Spoilers for the first Digital Devil Saga are contained in the next paragraph, so if you haven't beaten it yet, you may want to skip it

The game is going to be a direct continuation of the first title. Serph, Sera, and the rest of Embryon make it out of the Junkyard and into Nirvana. Upon reaching Nirvana, they find that it isn't exactly the paradise they expected it to be, however. The world is being scorched by a black sun, which turns anyone who comes into contact with its light into stone. And thus, most people are forced to live underground. The Church of Karma has built a large domed structure called Karma City that shields the city's population from the light. However, a group known as Roukapara is in opposition to the Church of Karma.

Some new gameplay elements have been added to the game, which include a "Mantra Hexa Drive system," "Karma Ring", and "Half-Human Half-Demon Rasetsu mode." The Half-Human Half-Demon Rasetsu mode will allow your characters to change into half-human half-demons, which will boost their attack power considerably, but will also decrease their defense power considerably.

The mantra chart is now made up of a series of hexagon shaped tiles. Some mantra can only be unlocked via cooperation with other team members.

If you've beaten the first Digital Devil Saga, then you will be able to unlock a "Hard" difficulty setting. Also, certain conversation choices that you made in the first game will have an affect on some aspects of the sequel. If more information is what you desire, check out the official website. Currently, this game is slated towards an early 2005 release in Japan.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children - Messiahlyzer

Atlus was originally working on Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children - Messiahlyzer, but they ended up dropping the project. Rocket, however, picked up the title.

The story revolves around a powerful demon that, at one point in the past, was on the verge of controlling all of Valhalla, but in the end was defeated and sealed in the Messiahlyzer. Now the Empire is hoping to break the seal to reawaken the demon. Jin, Akira and Rena set out on a journey to stop the empire by collecting secret stones that have the power to stop the Messiahlyzer.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children - Messiahlyzer will reportedly do away with the turn-based battle system of old, and will instead feature a real time simulation battle system. Before a battle, you are given a victory condition. During battle, you're able to move about freely, use magic, physical attacks and summon demons and the like. After you complete the battle, you will be given a ranking based on how well you did during the battle. Provided you did well enough, you may be rewarded with a new nakama (devil ally.)

After you defeat an enemy devil, it will become a soul and you will be able to negotiate with it. Successfully negotiate, and it will join your party. You will also have the option of fusing two demons together, which will result in a new ally for you to use in battle.

First Day Game Sales for 9/16

  • 1. Pokemon Emerald (GBA) - 372,000 units
  • 2. Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia (PS2) - 81,000 units
  • 3. Spectral Force: Radical Elements (PS2) - 4,700 units
  • 4. Spectral Force: Radical Elements Limited Edition (PS2) - 2,200 units

  • Final TGS RPG List

    Below is the complete (I hope) list of RPGs that will be shown off at the Tokyo Games Show
    • Katakamuna: Mowareta Ingaritsu (PS2)
    • Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner 2 (PS2)
    • StellaDeus (PS2)
    • Shin Megami Tensei Online Imagine (PC)
    • Growlanser IV: Return (PS2)
    • Kowloon Youma Gakuenki (PS2)
    • Rockman EXE: Phantom of Network (Cellphone)
      D3 Publisher
    • Love Songs ADV Futaba Riho 14-sai: Natsu (PS2)
    • Love Songs ADV Futaba Riho 19-sai: Fuyu (PS2)
      Electronic Arts
    • Star Wars Galaxies (PC)
    • Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (PS2)
    • R.O.S.E. (PC)
    • Ragnarok Kafra Quest (Mobile)
    • Lars the Wonderer (Mobile)
    • Dangerous Girl (Mobile)
    • Cresents and Pee & Gity
    • Kita he: Diamond Dust + Kiss is Beginning (PS2) Rengoku: The Tower of Purgatory (PSP)
    • Mobile Tengai Makyou (Cellphone)
    • Two unannounced cellphone RPGs
    • Kessen 3 (PS2)
    • Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim (PS2)
    • Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim (PSP)
    • Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django (GBA)
    • Goemon: New Age Shutsudou! (GBA)
    • Next Bokura no Taiyou: Taiyou Shonen Jango (GBA)
    • Tokimeki Memorial (Cellphone)
    • Fable (Xbox)
    • Sudeki (Xbox)
    • Jade Empire (Xbox)
    • Tales of Symphonia (PS2)
    • Tales of Rebirth (PS2)
    • Tales of the World: Nariki Dungeon 3 (GBA)
    • Additional new titles to be announced
      Princess Soft
    • Final Approach (PS2)
    • W: Wish (PS2)
    • Strugarden (PC)
    • Sakura Taisen 3: Paris wa Moete iru ka (PS2)
    • Sakura Taisen 4: Koi Seyo Otome (PS2)
    • Sakura Taisen V Episode 0: Arano no Samurai Musume (PS2)
    • Sakura Taisen V: Saraba Itoshiki Hito yo (PS2)
    • Shining Tears (PS2)
    • Shining Force (PS2)
    • Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon (PS2)
      Sony Computer Entertainment
    • Arc The Lad Generation (PS2)
    • Wild ARMS: The Fourth Detonator (PS2)
    • Waga Ryuu wo Miyo: Pride of the Dragon Peace (PS2)
    • Tenken Chimon, Sony Computer Entertainment (PSP)
      Square Enix
    • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (DVD)
    • Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
    • Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
    • Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories (GBA)
    • Before Crisis Final Fantasy VII (Cellphone)
    • Egg Monster Hero (DS)
    • EverQuest 2 (PC)
    • Final Fantasy XI Chains of Promathia (PC/PS2)
    • Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy In Itadaki Street Special (PS2)
    • Front Mission Online (PS2/PC)
    • Full Metal Alchemist 2 (PS2)
    • Kingdom Hearts 2 (PS2)
    • Radiata Stories (PS2)
    • Fantasy Earth: The Ring of Dominion (PC)
    • Cross Gate Power Up Kit 3 (PC)
    • Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus (PS2)
    • Hanjuku Eiyuu: 4-7 Hito no Hanjuku Eiyuu (PS2)
    • Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song (PS2)
    • Konohana 4: Yami wo Haraikiyomeru Inori (PS2)
      Tonkin House
    • D-A: White (PS2)
    • Missing Blue (Best Price) (PS2)
    • Riviera: Yakusoku no Chi Riviera (GBA)
    • Naruto RPG (GBA)

    Final Grumble

    I'd like to thank a reader of RPGamer who wishes to remain anonymous for providing us with some information for this update. Also, I want to extend a hearty totonka thanks to Amish for sharing some of his first hand insight into Japan this week.

    Phillip Clayton

    Sources: [1UP] [The Magicbox] [RPGfan]

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