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  1. Editor's Note: Instead of using our traditional reviewing method with breakdowns and a final score, these games were reviewed by giving a short yet concise overview of each game; thus they were not scored. A download code was supplied by the publisher for this review Despite the PS3 being out since 2006, only a handful of games have been made available through the PSone Classics section on the PS Store. Some true classics have been posted, but so too have games that no one would rightly define “classic.” A subset of the section, PSone Imports, saw such little use that it has now been merged with the main section. Still, near the end of its lifespan, GungHo Online Entertainment has brought out their second batch of import games onto the Store. They first released a batch of import titles last year and it was a pretty interesting selection. Despite being in Japanese, most of the games could be understood by anyone. This time around, the six new games are not as friendly to non-Japanese speaking/reading audiences. All the same, someone must play them to see just how likely it is we may enjoy them! Here“s the take on these six imports from someone who definitely cannot read Japanese. Favorite Dear ~Enkan no Monogatari~ Here is one game that is a surprise to see available to a western audience. Favorite Dear is a series of games, with this being the third in the series, that focuses on RPG and visual novel elements. Players interested in these genres may at first be excited by its availability on PSN, but those without knowledge of Japanese won“t be able to do anything with it. As all these games are pure imports, you“ll be forced to wade through countless menus and text all written in Japanese. If you have no clue about Japanese, then don“t even bother. Those who are students of the language might be able to work their way through, but this is a game best for fluent readers. After all, the game offers up so much text it just isn“t worth it to skip through everything to say you“ve played it. First Queen IV This game seems to be a boilerplate mashup between RPG and SRPG. Although fans can never have enough strategy titles, this is one that is probably best left to those who can actually read Japanese. The game is full of story, none of it voiced, and it seems much of the point in playing is lost through simply not understanding what is happening. Granted, strategy games can flourish based on simply great mechanics. In my case, I found even these aspects difficult though as menus are full of Japanese text. If you can learn them and then memorize what they each mean then the game becomes playable but why put so much effort in? In the case of First Queen IV, it would probably be better to seek out a different SRPG. Mahjong Uranai Fortuna ~Tsuki no Megami Tachi~ Although we may have never played it, many are probably familiar with the game called mahjong. This board game which originated in China revolves around tiles and has four players (typically) facing off against one another. Although the exact mechanics vary by region, the four player games of mahjong are extremely popular in China and Japan. If you want to give this game a shot then make sure you know how to play mahjong (or at least, are willing to read up on it). That“s not to say the game is just a digital rendition of the classic game. It also features fortune tellers which you can play and square off against. It“s also possible to get your fortune from them, but of course it“s all announced in Japanese. Those who can understand spoken Japanese should appreciate that text is also said by characters as well as displayed on screen. Oz no Mahoutsukai ~Another World~ RungRung In this game, you play as Dorothy as her and her pet dog Toto travel about the mysterious realm of Oz. Yep, this is a PS1 rendition of The Wizard of Oz and, despite having similar hallmarks, takes a fair bit of artistic liberty to the world as well. Visually, the game is very bright and looks good for the era. Understanding the game is a bit more complex though. Thankfully many lines of dialog are voiced, which may help some, but otherwise you mostly have to guess as to what to do next. Obviously, missions typed in Japanese text alone leave little room for understanding for the non-Japanese speaker. This is unfortunate considering the game has a cute style. Sentimental Graffiti Of all the games GungHo brought West this time around, Sentimental Graffiti is by far the most head-scratching addition. Although the name certainly doesn“t reveal it, this is a dating sim. While some may be initially very excited by a “new” dating sim being made available it is of little use to non-Japanese readers. The game is completely full of Japanese text. The original game was released on PS and Saturn and was later granted both a sequel and anime series. There are 12 dateable girls and, although you can find a guide, it isn“t particularly able to help you enjoy the story any. It“s probably best that those of us with no Japanese knowledge skip out on Sentimental Graffiti. Trump Shiyouyo! Fukkoku-ban Although this name might sound a bit rude, it ends up being the easiest game to get into by far. As may be inferred by the “Trump” in the name, this is a card game collection. The art style is very cartoony and as such it seems this set was made for children, although they probably wouldn't know the rules of all the included card games. There are ten card games included in all and many should be familiar to US gamers. They are: Baba-nuki (Old Maid), Blackjack, Daifugou (Grand Millionaire), Dobon, Page One, Poker, Seven Bridge, Shichi-narabe (Sevens), Shinkei-sujyaku (Concentration), and Speed. Unfortunately, most of the game names are written in Japanese on the main menu. Once you“re in a game though, most of the information is conveyed through card faces (which don“t change due to differing regions) and so it“s not hard to discern what you“re playing. Overall, GungHo“s latest Imports are an incredibly brave attempt by the company. However, those of us who are unable to read or speak Japanese will find these games too much work to play (aside from the card games). It“s a shame considering the likes of Oz no Mahoutsukai ~Another World~ RungRung seem very appealing and then there“s Sentimental Graffiti which would no doubt sell to dating sim hopefuls in America if it were translated. Still, if you read Japanese or have friends who do, let them know about these unusual PSN releases playable on PS3, PSP, and Vita.
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Six GungHo PSOne Classic Imports

    Editor's Note: Instead of using our traditional reviewing method with breakdowns and a final score, these games were reviewed by giving a short yet concise overview of each game; thus they were not scored. A few weeks ago, publisher GungHo suddenly released six titles on PSN. They were not just any old PSOne Classics however, but additions to the fairly small library of the Import section. Although GungHo has only started to make a name for themselves in the West, it seems they are hoping to release a great deal of Japanese content for us. So how are the games they just released? Are they all hidden gems or should some have remained in Japan? Are they worth the asking price of $6? Art Camion Sugorokuden Developer: Affect In Art Camion Sugorokuden, you take the role of a truck driver and navigate around a big board game map. This is accomplished by spinning a wheel and using your amount of moves to try and deliver packages. As you deliver, you gain points which can be spent on decking out your truck. While it may not be familiar to Americans, the fad of “Art Trucks” in Japan was big enough to base a game on it. Of all the GungHo-published titles on PSN, this is the one that should be looked at with most caution. Although it sounds endearingly strange, and very well may be, it is nearly impossible to get into if you don“t read Japanese. The game is riddled with text that is all probably saying helpful stuff. You can understand visually where packages need to be dropped, but other than that, you will have a hard time figuring out what to do. Finger Flashing Developer: Affect Finger Flashing is a puzzle game which makes for the perfect type of import release. In this title, you play as a little character traveling constantly upwards. Along their journey, enemies will come down the screen and attempt to destroy you. They fall at increasing speeds and once they reach the level of your character, the game is over. Thankfully, you can repel them by shooting “rock”, “paper”, or “scissors” monsters back at them. Yes, this game is a mix between puzzlers and the classic game of rock, paper, scissors. At first, it is a little hard to understand simply because the enemies with hand symbols on them are a bit hard to determine. The game is from 1999 after all, so it may not present quite as attractively on a large screen. There is also text always on-screen to show you which button unleashes what hand, but it is written in Japanese so that won“t help you either. Thankfully, if you play for more than a few minutes you“ll get a feel for which button does what and how to match thanks to each monster being one of three colors. Lup Salad Developer: Datam Polystar Finger Flashing is not the only oddly-titled puzzle game now available. There is also Lup Salad, which in many ways is a more compelling title. This game places you in the shoes of a young girl named Salad. She takes to a 2D plane where she must push colored blocks to make them match up in groups of three or more to clear them. However, you must push and platform carefully or else Salad may be crushed by falling blocks. Lup Salad represents (to me) the best game available from this set of Import releases. Although it features Japanese text for menus, it is incredibly easy to understand. All the gameplay is self evident and all required to enjoy it is a brain with a taste for puzzles. It also manages to be tough but beatable for most of its over a hundred levels. For the price, it is a good deal if you like challenging yourself with these types of games. Makeruna! Makendo 2 Developer: Datam Polystar There is one fighter in the bunch and it is Makeruna! Makendo 2. It is actually the sequel to what was known as Kendo Rage in America. The sequel was initially a SNES title, but was then brought over to PS systems in Japan. Although it may have missed an American release for all those years, it has now finally received one. The question is really whether or not it was necessary. By now, many fighting game fans have fallen in love with modern renditions of their favorite series. Makeruna! Makendo 2 does not have much of a following because, even at the time, it was not a highly entertaining game. It does have a cast of weird fighters (more so than many others), but that doesn“t make it worth a purchase. If you simply adore all retro fighting games then pick it up, but otherwise you won“t be missing much. Vehicle Cavalier Developer: Vanguard Works Aside from Art Camion Sugorokuden, Vehicle Cavalier is the only other game here that requires knowledge of the Japanese language. The game itself is one where you control and fight mechs, but more often than not, you will be tweaking the machine instead of fighting. As you might expect, customizing the machine requires text and lots of it. I managed to figure out how to change the colors and patterns on my mech by fiddling around, but doing anything substantial would require players to read menus. Once in a battle, things are simpler but not much fun. The world is very empty and fights are not so hectic. Then there is the fact that if you“re unable to upgrade your mech effectively you won“t be in for a very fair fight anyway. Definitely pass on this game unless you can read Japanese or are willing to memorize where specific things are within the various menus. Zanac X Zanac Developer: Compile If 2D shooters are more your speed then Zanac X Zanac is what you should look into. The game is actually the combination of two releases: Zanac and its sequel Zanac Neo. As it is the same price as the other Imports, it is a better value overall. Those not initiated in the shoot ”em up fandom may not recognize the name but it is actually deemed a classic and has quite a following. As far as shooters go, it is a fine set of games. The soundtracks are both excellent and the game itself is tough but rewarding. As with the puzzle games, there is no need to understand Japanese. Even better, what little menus there are had already been written in English. Interestingly, the original Zanac did see a release in North America via Wii“s Virtual Console, but Zanac Neo never did. Overall, this set of PSOne Classic Import games is a success. Unfortunately, some people will probably be turned off by picking Art Camion Sugorokuden or Vehicle Cavalier on a whim. Thankfully, now that you“ve checked out this review you should know what these games expect of players. Of them all it seems that Lup Salad and Zanac X Zanac are the best, with Finger Flashing coming in a close third. Check out the games on PSN if you“re interested just as long as you don“t mind PS1 visuals and overall simplicity. Each game (minus Vehicle Cavalier, which lacks Vita compatibility) can be played on PS3 or PSP, and Vita.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    GungHo Bringing More Obscure Games to PSN Imports

    Most PS3 users look through PSN every once in a while, but may not be aware of the PS One Classics Import section. This area features games which were only available on PS1 in Japan. So far, publisher Monkey Paw Interactive has served up most items available within it. Today, GungHo Online Entertainment has just pushed six titles to PSN. You may recall this company as they were the ones who also brought Dokuro to PSN. Now it seems they're in full swing, releasing lots of very Japanese content to Sony fans. The six new games are as follows: Art Camion Sugorokuden Finger Flashing Lup Salad Makeruna Makendo 2 Vehicle Cavalier ZANAC x ZANAC Chances are, most, if not all, of the titles mentioned are not ones you're familiar with. As such, here are some incredibly brief descriptions for each. Art Camion Sugorokuden is a board game of sorts based around garishly decorated delivery trucks. Finger Flashing is basically rock, paper, scissors, except that you use the luck game to fight off monsters and other enemies. Lup Salad is mostly a typical puzzle game focused around matching three blocks of a kind. However, movement is limited as blocks may fall and crush the character if they aren't careful. Continuing on, Makuruna Makendo 2 was initially a SNES-era fighting game. It was updated for PS and features a cast of strange characters to fight with. Vehicle Cavalier is a game of giant robots battling each other. You're able to customize your mech as well. Finally, ZANAC x ZANAC is a package of two games, Zanac and Zanac Neo. These are both sidescrolling shooters which fans of the genre are probably familiar with. Each title is $6 and is completely in Japanese. Do you appreciate how the digital era is giving players access to games never before available in their regions?
  4. If you're a gamer at all interested in games that are developed in Japan then you probably have visited Andriasang at some point in the past few years. Even if you haven't, you've probably gotten a taste of their stories sourced through massive gaming sites like Destructoid or Kotaku. Most everyone who wanted the most recent updates or Famitsu scans would head to the site to get the scoop. Unfortunately, it was announced last night that the site will no longer be updated. The official word from Andriasang's Anoop Gantayat is as follows: "I've decided to take up a new non game-related opportunity that I reckon will keep me super ultra busy, so I will be ceasing daily updates. I may do some database-driven stuff and technology tests (look closely, and you may see the site's backend code base change from PHP to node.js!), but I won't be doing articles or updates. The site's archive and comments will remain in place, so you can still consult old content and share it with your children, and one day their children too." At least the site will remain online in case people ever want to look into past Japanese game news. While fans will be saddened by the site no longer being relevant, they should at least be happy that Gantayat has found an even better opportunity. Although there are no sites quite like Andriasang, hopefully the existing ones will be able to fill its shoes. What is your favorite site to get Japanese gaming news in English?