Greetings, visitors, and welcome to yet another warm and fuzzy edition of Go West!, your weekly column about Japanese import games, companies going under, and saluting those we’ve lost in battle.
After what seems like an entire month of silence, the Japanese games industry is finally releasing new titles again. This week’s list is full of niche things, but I know that’s exactly the sort of stuff you folks enjoy. I’ll be picking up a few new games myself; one particularly for streaming purposes, the other because I owe it to the developers in question to play their final game.
With that out of the way, let’s get this party started!
I don’t hold D3 Publisher in particularly high regard these days.
If you’re wondering why, I suggest you go read my piece on Bullet Girls, the last game of theirs that I played.
So if I sound a bit sour, you’ll have to forgive me.
What exactly IS Natsuiro High School, you ask? Well, it appears to be a lot of things. For one, it’s a Japanese developed open world video game, which is something that doesn’t come along very often. You take the role of a high school boy with a camera, and you travel around the island taking photos, doing quests, making friends, and finding romance. I get the impression that Natsuiro was developed around the photo taking and dating sim mechanics, and then everything else kind of took shape.
D3 Publisher games are known for excessive amounts of jank, and considering the standard amount of that that comes with even the best of open world releases, I can only hope that Natsuiro is full of weird glitches and bugs.
A warning is necessary here, however, as the game looks to place a lot of emphasis on pervy things, taking sketchy photos, etc. You can get arrested for being a terrible human being, but many of the main character’s abilities are definitely designed with evading notice in mind. It’s all done in a very tongue and cheek kinda way from what I can tell, but I totally get that that doesn’t sit well with people. I had my own similar issues with Bullet Girls, for example.
If this comes over, I’m willing to bet anything that it’ll be an XSEED joint. I’ll be picking this up and streaming it over the weekend, so stay tuned.
Welcome back, Shiren.
It’s been a long time since the last Shiren game. In fact, five years have passed since Shiren the Wanderer 5 hit the DS here in Japan.
That’s half a decade.
This might not be Shiren 6, but it’s a sign that the franchise has still got life in it yet. As one might expect, 5+ is an updated version of the vanilla game, with a host of new dungeons, widescreen visuals, and little tweaks here and there to make for the ultimate Shiren experience. If you’ve never played these games, the short of it is that they’re rogue-likes. When you die, you lose pretty much everything (save for some things you can do to lessen the pain). Each floor of each dungeon is randomized, and enemies move in real-time with every step you take. They’re challenging but extremely rewarding, and Shiren titles have often been the pinnacle of the genre.
Five never made its way west, but with Atlus having localized their Mystery Dungeon/Etrian Odyssey crossover for the 3DS, there’s a pretty solid chance they’ll pick this up.
At least I hope so.
And so we come to what might be the standout release of the week, though for all the wrong reasons. After approximately ten years of game development, the book closes on a little Japanese developer’s story.
Stella Glow is Imageepoch’s final game.
If that seems dramatic, it’s no more so than the story that reality paints for us. Imageepoch’s president, Ryohei Mikage, went missing months ago, leaving the IE offices an empty shell with no actual employees. To this day, nobody seems to know where he went, though it’s not hard to guess that he may very well be avoiding the rest of the world. After Imageepoch launched their JRPG brand, it seemed like things just kept getting worse and worse for the company, ending with their bankruptcy.
Before all of that went public however, Imageepoch announced their 10th anniversary project, Stella Glow.
Stella Glow is a strategy RPG not unlike IE’s Luminous Arc games, putting a strong focus on the main character’s relationships with his female counterparts. Boosting that relationship strengthens their skills (in this case, musical magic), and also leads to bonus events and the like. Sega released a demo for Stella Glow last month, and I played it through to completion. Nothing about it stood out to me; it felt like a fairly run of the mill SRPG with some nice art. That being said, maybe that’s enough. Maybe a fairy-tale like story, some decent SRPG gameplay, and solid production values are exactly the way that Imageepoch deserves to go out.
Not spectacular, not awful. Just OK.
I’ll be picking up Stella Glow this Thursday, if only to pay tribute to a studio that never quite carried through on its weighty promises. If you want to read a more thorough breakdown of Imageepoch’s life and times, check out my piece with Heidi Kemps.
Rest in peace, Imageepoch.
I don’t understand why this game exists and I’m not convinced that Gust does either.
Let me first make it clear that I have no beef with the Atelier series. In fact, the games in the series that I’ve played I enjoyed quite a bit. I love the kind of optimistic storytelling on display in Atelier releases, and I wish more people gave them a fair shot instead of making assumptions.
That being said, I don’t know why Shin Atelier Rorona for the 3DS was made.
Shin Atelier Rorona is an upport/downport/sideport of the updated Shin Atelier Rorona game on the PS3/Vita. The art style is now super-deformed, and battles take place on an SRPG like grid system. Otherwise, the core story is still intact, as are the character portraits, alchemy systems, and general vibe.
I understand that Gust is trying to get a piece of the 3DS pie, but I remain unconvinced that this is what consumers want.
Who knows. Maybe I’m completely off the mark this time.
[And that’s all for this week! The month of June is going to be positively packed, so expect GW! to continue consistently for the next three or so weeks. Those wallets are gonna be getting a helluva lot lighter. Prepare yourselves.]