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Items of Import: Look Ahead! Dragon Quest V



How is Dragon Quest IV holding up for you, dear readers? Did you run out and buy yourselves a copy, and power through the game? Does the whole feel of the title scream "Classic!" or does it reek of archaic sensibilities? Perhaps you were part of the faithful minority in the great debate of RPG fandom, at the beginning of the week. Personally, as a little kid growing up in the halcyon days of the Famicom (and later, Super Famicom) era, the opening track of the Dragon Quest series is more memorable and more emotionally stirring than the Japanese national anthem.

So... You may be knee deep in Dragon Quest IV goodness right now, and enjoying its tale of many heroes and heroines. Once you come to that inevitable conclusion, what have you got to look ahead to? Why, Dragon Quest V, of course. Today in Items of Import, we'll take the opportunity of the recent release of the fourth in the series in the Western markets to see what's to look forward to in the second entry of the Zenithia trilogy.



Continue reading Items of Import: Look Ahead! Dragon Quest V

Items of Import: Let's RPG - More Words To Learn! part 2

3. Ability

Your regular sword slashes and fire magic just ain't cutting it for this fight. Or maybe you just want to pickpocket some gold from the creature in front of you, all stealth-like. Perhaps that jump attack your dragoon knight has will just turn the tide of the battle.

That there above, readers, isn't a blogger's typical spelling error. In J-RPGs, our English word "ability" is morphed into abiriti, a friendlier pronunciation for Japanese tongues. And as I've mentioned in the past, the script for the word is in katakana, specifically designed for foreign words.

Always with this word, you will find that selecting it will take you to a secondary screen, with even more weird and wonderful Japanese words. All this blogger can tell you is: Good luck! With any imported title, part of the fun is figuring things out by trial and error -- it's not the end of the world if your Level 56 Hero of Awesomeness dies in battle because you don't have a clue what to do. Experiment! Click away on all the crazy Japanese words. You'll get there!

4. Experience

For an RPG fanatic, seeing your characters grow and become stronger is nothing short of satisfying. You remember those times when he was just a wee boy, wielding a short sword at Level 5. Look at him now! A grown man, all chiseled and weary, holding a great big battle axe. I remember when you came home crying -- all you had on was some simple leather attire, and all the kids at school wore shiny mithril. And, uh, that's enough of my dreams of being the good wife in the small and peaceful village of Dresnia.

We all know and love experience points. As gamers, we are always on the lookout for when our heroes will go up a level. We want it in chart form. So to sate your appetite for leveling up in a Japanese language RPG, behold the text image above. As I repeatedly point out (to the annoyance of the readers possibly!), the first script is the more complicated kanji form. You will tend to find fairly equal amounts of both variants. Often, it will be between some other words. In this case, the phrase can more than likely be translated as "Experience points needed for next level."

5. Load

In our last lesson with RPGs, we came across the Japanese for "save." Sometimes, however, your progress in the game is halted by some horrible mistake you made on the way. Lucky for you, you had an alternate save slot of an earlier time in the game. Call it "gamer's premonition," if you will. But where is that all important "load" button!?

Oh, yes, it's right there on the, uh, right. How convenient of this newfangled column! In Japanese, "load" is fairly similarly pronounced like the English, except for the extended ending. We're sure you will find this word useful to recognize in-game, when you simply get stuck on something.

Closing Off



So now you're equipped with a good variety of Japanese words in a typical RPG to recognize and press away. It still takes months of keike--, I mean, experience, to completely enjoy an imported title. A lot of people will, of course, want to understand the epic story being told (Note to self: Get to writing a "common narrative words in a Japanese RPG" column one day!). Oh, and by the by, a little something called Blue Dragon Plus was released today in Japan. It's time for me, and you, to place an order after posting this! Good luck, and keep persevering! Or as they say in the Land of the Rising Sun, ganbatte!


Items of Import is a fortnightly column dedicated to titles only out in Japan. With in-depth impressions of games long before localization and knowledgeable language how-tos, it attempts to bridge the gap between the import savvy and import fearing. Come on, now! You, too, can make that giant leap! Yokoso!


Items of Import: Let's RPG - More Words To Learn!



So you've mastered a variety of words to get your import RPG on. You've managed to attack some nefarious evil-doers; cast some magic to heal your party; perhaps you've even worn some new equipment. On top of all that, you were able to save your precious progress!

"Hey, I can do this! Easy peasy Japanesey!" I hear you say. Oh, young grasshopper -- you have much to learn. To be precise, you've another five new words to master. By nature, RPGs are undoubtedly the most text-heavy of all game genres. With its epic narrative detailing a world and its characters, and a menu screen chock full of words describing important stats and what-have-you, there are rarely moments in an RPG one does not look at text.

The challenge of an imported RPG of course comes from the fact that these thousands, if not millions, of words are in Japanese. BUT! Yes, there's a "but." For us as gamers, overcoming challenge is in our blood! And oftentimes, we are used to RPGs in English, so that even in Japanese, we sort of "get it," you know? Nevertheless, knowing what's what for sure always helps, and Items of Import is here for you once again to expand your Japanese RPG vocabulary.

Continue reading Items of Import: Let's RPG - More Words To Learn!

Items of Import: Sigma Harmonics preview



So there are those certain types of games that deserve an immediate import -- the language barrier isn't too steep, and the gameplay is universally appealing. A lot of titles, however, require a good ability in Japanese to navigate. But a part of the appeal of this column is not simply being an "importer's guide" on what's easy and import-able, but also to expand upon our readers knowledge of upcoming games out of Japan that may or may not see an overseas release. Said games may be the triplest of A's; or in other cases, it could be an ultra quirk-fest of a game that has no chance of sailing across to the Western shores.

With that in mind, today's Items of Import looks at Sigma Harmonics, a "mystery RPG" developed in-house at Square Enix. Having just released in Japan, this is a title that deserves more of our attention since an original IP from the publisher has been a long time coming. The official website for the game is loaded with content right now, and we can learn much from reading and translating it.

Gallery: Sigma Harmonics




Continue reading Items of Import: Sigma Harmonics preview

Items of Import: Rhythm Tengoku Gold part 2



The final gameplay keyword is the one you see above. Possibly the most important mechanic in the game, flicking the stylus across the touchscreen is used so often in most minigames that it must be mentioned here. As I've written in the Japanese, you'll often find different versions of the "flick" verb, depending on the circumstance at hand. Put simply, "hajiku" is "to flick" literally; and "hajiite" is more like a request to flick -- like, "Please flick the stylus" -- and you will often come across this in the genial tutorial.



Here's a handy graphic detailing the three techniques. Number 1 shows "touch," 2 shows "let go" and 3 shows "flick." As can be seen from the flicking image, it's like writing a tick mark quickly. The note for number 3 states: "Flick with a good sense of force. If the flicking distance is short, or there's no momentum, it will not work."

A quick explanation of the other modes present in the game is in order! Apart from the 50-odd minigame challenges, there are two areas where more rhythmic fun can be had. First up is the Medal Corner. Each time you gain a "High Level Medal" in a minigame -- by being a Rhythm God, of course -- you are awarded a medal which can then be used to buy little extras: "endless games" where the goal is to get a high score (or die trying) in simple one-notion minigames; "rhythm toys," and so on.

The second mode is the Coffee House. This is where you can talk to the barista to gain tips, as well as listen to music and read books you've unlocked through accomplishing perfects. This is meant more to be a time to relax and while away the minutes, just as a nice cafe would. Explore these modes at your own leisure, and you'll surely come across hidden gems.

Closing Off

Containing only a handful of Japanese words to learn and navigate, and being one of the most inventive rhythm games on the DS, Rhythm Tengoku Gold is a title any keen importer should consider to be on top of his or her list. Don't let those unusual scribbles scare you away -- dare I say it, but you might as well use this little humble column once in awhile to help you on your way!


Items of Import is a weekly column dedicated to titles only out in Japan. With in-depth impressions of games long before localization and knowledgeable language how-tos, it attempts to bridge the gap between the import savvy and import fearing. Come on, now! You, too, can make that giant leap! Yokoso!

Items of Import: Rhythm Tengoku Gold



No one should have to burden themselves with waiting for Rhythm Tengoku Gold to arrive Stateside. Aside from the fact that Nintendo of America still hasn't announced a specific release schedule for the game (we're looking at you also, Jam With The Band), any title with rhythm as the main focus of the gameplay lends itself perfectly for importing.

Of course, any game you import from Japan has its fair share of unreadable text. From roleplaying games to intense puzzlers, the fear exists that the Japanese language will overwhelm you and make you feel like you wasted precious dollars on an unplayable game. Fear not! For Items of Import is here for you once again -- to guide you through trouble, and to encourage you to start importing.

Rhythm Tengoku Gold was just released last week in Japan. With its catchy Tsunku-produced tunes and zany visuals, the game could be your perfect import choice of the month. Show it to all your FPS-loving gamer friends; show them what those crazy Japanese call games these days. With merely a handful of Japanese to conquer compared to those icky RPGs, you'll be enjoying Rhythm Tengoku in no time. And who's going to help you through it all? Why, look what we have here? -- another edition of Items of Import to share, educate, and encourage you to take that step!


Continue reading Items of Import: Rhythm Tengoku Gold

Items of Import: Let's Enroleplaying Games!



After a lot of deliberation, Joe Player finally decided to try importing a game from Japan. It was nerve-wracking, clicking through to an online retailer and perusing the list of unusual titles. With fingers poised above the keyboard, he hesitated -- would his credit card information be safe? Should he choose express post? How long would delivery take?

He was worried -- did he make the right choice? Was his Japanese sufficient to play the game? He'd learned hiragana in classes, and picked up some ninja phrases from fansubbed episodes of Naruto. Would it be enough? He would soon find out.

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Items of Import, a new weekly feature that will make you feel a little less worried about your import choices. Sometimes playing a game in Japanese can seem like a daunting task. But make no mistake: Items of Import is here to nurture you, guide you, and teach you the ways of Japanese games. Keep checking this space for your dose of import impressions and language lessons.


You can take it with you: Nintendo handheld retrospective

Tomorrow is the big day -- Nintendo's E3 2008 media briefing. Will there be a new DS? A new handheld altogether? A new array of DS Lite colors instead? Nearly anything is possible, and while we wait, bouncing up and down on our toes and struggling to remember to breathe through the excitement, it's a good time to look back at the history of Nintendo's handhelds. From the extensive Game & Watch collection to a few portables you may have forgotten, Nintendo has a rich and storied handheld history, and it's one we celebrate every day -- just not like this.







Step forward into the past

Gaming to Go: Meteos



The end comes quickly. White fire screams out of the night, raining destruction down from the heavens. The populace is thrown into chaos, helpless to stop the assault. Five minutes pass. When the dust settles, the world is quiet. The only sound comes from a distance: a single anguished scream as one angry word flashes across the sky.

Annihilation.

This is Meteos.

That white fire? Call it Meteos, colorful symbols constantly plummeting towards the planet. The populace? Over thirty different alien races, each with its own unique world. And those five minutes? That, uh, isn't really a storyline element. No, it's a reflection of my skill, which typically dooms a planet to utter annihilation in the time it takes those poor aliens to start freaking out and hiding under tables.

Welcome to Gaming to Go, a shiny new feature devoted to the games best suited for our increasingly busy lifestyles. Only have a few minutes to spare on your daily commute? Bored with thinking deep thoughts whenever you're on the toilet? Read on to hear why one of the DS's oldest titles is still one of the best to spend your precious scant time with.

Gallery: Gaming to Go: Meteos


Continue reading Gaming to Go: Meteos

GameStop holding Pokemon tournament this Saturday


Reader capnwang wrote in to tell us of a Pokemon tournament going on at select GameStop stores. Taking place this Saturday, July 21st, the tournament demands you bring your DS and team of Pokemon in-store for the chance to win a copy of Pokemon Battle Revolution. In calling our local GameStop, they aren't having a tournament there, but acknowledged that other stores are doing it.

Plan on running down there this weekend to rock your Pokemon?

My Favorite Martian

If The Martian DS looks a little rough on the edges, it's because the title was originally created by a team of three for a 72-hour game development competition four years ago. The resulting project is actually quite impressive, considering, and we're happy to see that one of the original developers took the time to create a homebrew port of it for the DS.

Short but sweet, The Martian DS is a side-scrolling shooter in the vein of Alien Hominid. Players roam the city picking up weapons and power-ups while dodging constant gunfire from the local law enforcement. The game really suffers from the lack of a soundtrack, but the original character sprites, especially the donut-heaving boss, makes up for it.

Gallery: The Martian DS


[Via GBATemp]

Set sail for new Phantom Hourglass footage


There isn't much to these latest clips from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, which makes our job of presenting them that much more difficult. Still, what little we do get to see has us intrigued, as Link hauls around some pieces of the triforce and chats with his annoying little fairy cohort. If you're as excited as we are for the game (we're going to assume you're more excited), then you want to see any and all things related to Phantom Hourglass, so head on over and watch the videos.

[Via Go Nintendo]

Secret Collect. reveals itself on the DS

Just when you think we've established what the Nintendo DS is capable of graphics-wise, homebrew developer Phillip Bradbury comes along and smashes those preconceptions with a Videlectrix port for the ages. If you thought Population: Tire shook the scene with its innovative touchscreen controls, prepare to be brought to your knees by Secret Collect. Epic in every sense of the word, this remake is half Indiana Jones, half God of War The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:

"The greatest secrets man has ever known have been scattered all over the globe and its [sic] your job to find them."

Homestar Runner's Strong Bad stars in the game, represented by a magnificently detailed, red square. You'll navigate the agile hero through fifteen blocky mazes and collect yellow squares to advance to the next spine-tingling level. Picking up the blue power-ups (also squares) will boost your speed, keeping you ahead of the labyrinths' treacherous monsters -- so treacherous, they're invisible to the naked eye!

The original Flash version is also available online for those of you who either lack the tools to play homebrew games or don't have enough room on your hard drive for the 18KB download.

An updated peek at Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

Oh, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, how we wish you were out already. Like, yesterday. And then delivered to our doorstep wrapped in pretty pink bows, along with an IV filled with espresso, ready to power us through long gaming sessions. Or maybe that's just our own twisted personal fantasy. What can we say -- we're ready for some handheld Ninja Gaiden action, and this version is just as it should be: no frills, all thrills. For now, we'll just have to settle for sweet new screenshots. Check 'em out in the gallery!

Gallery: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters replacement in full swing


We can honestly say we haven't purchased this game because of all the controversy surrounding it, however now that news hits that those affected by the broken carts are receiving the promised replacements, we're feeling a bit more confident. And, even though SNK Playmore took longer than we would've initially thought to help those in need, we think if there are any more problems from here on out, we'd be covered.

Did any of you send in for a replacement cartridge? Receive it yet?

Next Page >

Gaming to Go!We debate the hot topics!

This Month's New Games

Name Date
Bleach: Dark Souls
Oct 6
Legend of Kage 2
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Crash: Mind Over Mutant
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My Japanese Coach
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Oct 14
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FIFA Soccer 09 Oct 14
Populous Oct 14
Rock Revolution
Oct 14
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
Oct 21
Theresia
Oct 21
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows Oct 21
Away: Shuffle Dungeon
Oct 21
Tornado
Oct 21
Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon
Oct 21
What's Cooking? With Jamie Oliver Oct 21
MySims Kingdom
Oct 28
Ninjatown Oct 28

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