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It’s PlayStation Season

October 9, 2011 Written by Heath Hindman

It’s now the last quarter of the year, the “golden quarter” for game developers, shops, and journalists alike. This year in particular, Sony looks to make some huge bank in these next three months, especially in Japan. Here’s a detailed look at the Far East’s fourth quarter.

October 6th saw the releases of multiplatform hits drop like RAGE and Winning Eleven, as well as the God of War HD Collection. The West doesn’t know about any of the PSP releases that arrived on shelves that day, like Phantom Kingdom Portable and AKB 1/48, but trust me, just because the names don’t ring a bell in your country doesn’t make them negligible; those babies are printing money right now. Phantom Kingdom is a port of the PS2 strategy RPG that NIS America renamed Makai Kingdom, and Nippon Ichi is about 10 times a bigger deal here than in the West. AKB 1/48, meanwhile, captures all the power of pop-culture phenomenon AKB 48. These girls are plastered all over everything. Every girl wants to be one of them, and every boy wants to have completely awkward and inappropriate relations with them. The hype display for this game at my local game shop is literally six feet tall by six feet wide. This game’s selling power is no joke, even though the game itself is.

This coming Thursday will see the PS3 version of Medal of Honor get a “The Best” (Greatest Hits) re-release, though the 360 version doesn’t appear to be getting the same deal on Microsoft’s best lineup. Other multiplatform titles raining down on PS3 that day will include Dead Rising 2: Off The Record and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. Those will be followed by Deus Ex: Human Revolution on the 20th, simply called Deus Ex out here.

PSP gives anime fans something to discard some cash on with Naruto Shippuden: Narutimate Impact on the 20th, and two days later will see an unusual Saturday release, set aside just for FIFA 12. Lately, the pro baseball games have been selling highest on PSP, so I wonder if that trend will keep up with FIFA. While rival soccer series Winning Eleven is beating FIFA to the shelves, FIFA is beating it to the important handheld market, so the battle of the footballers should be interesting.

The 27th of October is another example of a day that will be big for Sony in Japan, though two of the three reasons will slip under the Western radar entirely. PS3 gets Idol Master 2 that day, which, like AKB 1/48, strikes right at the heart of J-pop culture, just with a little less sex appeal. PSP gets RPGs Ragnarok: of Dark and Light and Final Fantasy Type-0 that day. The Type-0 demo on the PSN store was decent, but the TGS demo surprised the heck out of me; this is a game to watch, both for its sales numbers and its quality. Here’s hoping for a Western release date of Type-0.

November 3rd is when the PSP and PS2 get their versions of Winning Eleven. Know what’s insane about the PS2 version? It’s going to outsell something. Some poor jerk in a suit and tie pitched an idea, got it approved, hired a team of 76 people, made a game for a current-gen system, found a publisher, sent his game to market, and it’s gonna get taken to town by a PS2 version of a game that’s on like every other system in existence. Oh and I forgot to mention that a day earlier Sony gets some sort of exclusive called Uncharted 3, which I can’t find any information on. It must not be that big of a deal.

Expect a lot of PS3 sales on November 17th, when Level-5 and Studio Ghibli joint Ni no Kuni hits the stores. There will also be a snazzy gold PS3 bundle pack available, so it’s clear that this is expected to move some units. The Tales of Xillia bundle pack helped sell over 60,000 PS3s in its first weekend of availability, for reference. RPG fans can cash in once again with the Etrain Odyssey/Class of Heroes-style dungeon crawler 7th Dragon 2020.

The first of December will see arcade smash hit Gundam Extreme Versus arrives. This had a super long line at the Tokyo Game Show, even on the press days. Aside from Trails of Blue and any Vita game, this was the only game that had a really long wait time to play it on the first two days (I just waltzed right into Final Fantasy XIII-2, Kingdom Hearts 3D, and Yakuza: Black Panther 2 without waiting). As I’ve said before, I’m thinking this will be another system seller, because arcade nuts are constantly shoving hundred-yen coins into machines by the pocketfull. Addicts can buy a PS3 and this game and let the savings start adding up. Multiplatform Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Need for Speed: The Run, and Sonic Generations also ship that day.

December 8th is when we see the Skyrim out here, unlike you lucky buggers in the West that get it on the hip 11/11/11. With PC gaming being a niche thing and Xbox not having a huge user base due to lack of appealing exclusives, the PS3 version is expected to bet the star of Bethesda’s show. RPG fans that like their action a little more first-person can go with Wizardry: The Perfect Pack, a PS3 exclusive.

The 15th of December will be the day Final Fantasy receives only the second numered sequel to a numbered Final Fantasy title with PS3 and 360 both getting a piece of the Final Fantasy XIII-2 action. The original game got a lot of hate from vocal critics and fans alike, yet the sequel sits at #2 in Famitsu’s most recent anticipation poll.

The 17th is the big day, when Sony launches its second handheld system, the Vita. Nintendo is doing its est to play spoiler by teaming with Capcom to get Monster Hunter 3G out for 3DS a week before its launch, but this machine has some incredible buzz surrounding it. Fueled by Katamari Damacy, Ridge Racer, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Disgaea 3, Hot Shots Golf 6, Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3, Dynasty Warriors, and several others, the launch lineup is no slouch.

There are a ton of other PSP and PS3 games due out soon that I couldn’t fit in here — admittedly, about half of them love adventures and visual novels, but still, get enough games that sell 30k each and they add the heck up. With that, plus the heavy hitters above, and having exclusive dibs on launching a new system this holiday, it looks like the fourth quarter in Japan might just be PlayStation Season.