Welcome to the bloggy musings of a gamer in Japan.
Needs More Dragons
Anyone here ever played those 7th Dragon games? I’ve dabbled, but never jumped totally in.They’re dungeon crawlers comparable to Etrian Odyssey, and none of them have ever gone stateside.
A new one came out this month for 3DS, and the TGS demo was impressive. If you’re an established a series fan, however, you might be saddened to note the decline in sales from the other 7th Dragon titles. I really feel like the market might be more on the Vita than the 3DS, especially given that the latter is already crowded with the aforementioned Etrian Odyssey titles. Can’t you just picture a game like this:
…selling well on Vita, especially in Japan? Then again, I feel like those graphics might need an upgrade, the cost of which might not balance out any hypothetical increase in sales. I probably shouldn’t be a game publisher.
Politics as Usual
I was in a hotel writing a bunch of stuff for TGS when the government’s upper house voted to confirm a new interpretation of its pacifist constitution. Protests did nothing to change the minds of those in power, but the police sure did enjoy rounding up some protesters and holding them for weeks at a time while interrogating them for up to six hours a day. University students weren’t asked about possible criminal activity, but instead urged to drop interest in politics and focus on their studies. My favorite arrest was the one of the old guy who drew a Hitler mustache on some posters of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Seriously, that led to an arrest. This like something out of a movie. Would you play a Jet Grind Radio game where you had to tag political posters and evade arrest?
Here’s Something Out of Another Kind of Movie
An interesting debate that comes up with trailers and screenshots of games like Criminal Girls, Valkyrie Drive, and Omega Labyrinth is the sexualization of young girls. They are, after all, not real. Does it say something about the player if they buy something like that? But, if so, can you punish or judge fantasy if not acted on in reality? How far is too far? All of that back-and-forth that we’ve seen dozens of times over the years. One misconception about this whole debate, however, is the idea that “that’s just how it is in Japan.” Not necessarily.
In the late summer, controversy surrounded Aoshima Megu, the recently created mascot of ama divers in Shima city, Mie prefecture, was the source of public outrage. Compared to the images from some video games, this girl looks rather tame and conservative, doesn’t she? Apparently not. The Japan Times quoted one citizen: “The character is obscene. I believe it verges on child pornography.”
But compare the above to Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni, seen here:
But I guess that’s a little more hidden, because those are characters in a video game that one must buy, rather than the official mascot of a group of people who may detest the imagery.
As far as I can tell, this controversy hasn’t removed Megu-chan from her mascot position, as goods are still for sale and her image is still hanging around ama divers websites.
The point is, next time you think Japan is entirely welcoming to the ecchi stuff we see in niche games, remember that it is still indeed a niche, even in its homeland. Not everyone is on board with using a touchscreen to jiggle a 14-year-old’s H-cup rack out here.
Land of No Night, System of No Light
The PS4 price cut arrived and helped invigorate October, which, unlike in the west, is usually a slow month at Japanese game shops. It’s important to note that the numbers PS4 is currently moving (around 15-30k per week) are the same numbers that was earning the PS3 scorn and mockery. When the PS3 sold 20,000 in a week in 2007, people reacted as if the system was dead in the water. Now the PS4 sells a similar figure and it’s met with nods and comments that it’s “doing alright.” The times, they are a-changin’. All things are relative, so keep that in mind.
The October release of multiplatform (PS3, PS4, Vita) Yoru no Nai Kuni, known in the west as Nights of Azure, sold best on Vita. Its PS4 version actually had the better opening, but Vita has proven to have greater longevity. PS4 and Vita versions were still very close, mind you, but the fact that Vita came out on top makes the western lack of Vita version somewhat frustrating for overseas Vita owners — as if they needed anything else to be frustrated about.
Next week, we’ll get sales data for Vita/PS4 hunter God Eater Resurrection as well as the Xbox One-exclusive Halo 5, which should be interesting.
If you’ve been playing or anticipating a Japanese game, have a question or request for our (mostly) Japan-focused gaming podcast, or just feel like yelling, leave a comment below.