Salutations, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another rip roaring edition of Go West!, your [maybe] favorite column about Japanese import game releases.
Much to everybody’s collective relief, some games actually came out this week, and they’re pretty rad. We have a creepy, timely, horror game from the folks at NIS, a remake of Monster Hunter’s biggest rival, and a few visual novels that may or may not be your thing.
Anyhow, with the formalities out of the way, let’s get this roller derby started.
Ok, this isn’t a roller derby. That’s a lie. My bad.
It’s kind of crazy to think that God Eater as an IP has been around for five years. It left an impression on me as the first hunting action game after Monster Hunter created the genre seemingly single handedly. Not only was it the first “clone,” so to speak, but it was also a strong game in its own right. It featured a vibrant art style, fantastic music from Go Shiina, and even had an over-the-top anime-styled story mode that seemed to resonate with a whole lot of folks in Japan. Years later and Bandai Namco is revisiting that first game (and its Burst expansion) via God Eater Resurrection, a remake for the PlayStation 4 and Vita. In addition to the bumped up graphics, Resurrection adds a brand new scenario that takes place between God Eater Burst and God Eater 2, as well as a host of small and big gameplay changes. Unfortunately, the blood skills from 2 are gone (it only makes sense considering the canon), which leaves the game a little bit worse off.
While I won’t deny that I’m interesting in revisiting the original GE:B story, I don’t know if I’m willing to pay $50 just to do that. The problem with trying to go back and remake hunting action games is that by definition, each game in a series expands on the last. It builds on the base that’s already there. God Eater 2 and its expansion, Rage Burst, have all the maps and monsters (save for a couple of tweaked beasts) that Resurrection does. There’s just too much crossover in terms of content to make it worth the full price that they’re asking. Now if they sold the Resurrection campaign as a DLC expansion to God Eater 2: Rage Burst? I’d be there in a second. As it stands? I can’t be bothered to go back.
That said, if ever there was a version of the game to go west, it’d be this one. It’s on the right platforms, has online play in it from the start, and features a host of quality of life improvements over the original PSP game. Given how trigger happy Bandai Namco has been about localizing their games as of late, I’d be stunned if this wasn’t brought over.
I love horror games. I’m terrible at playing them, but I adore them none-the-less. A few years back, Nippon Ichi Software tried their hand at a weird little Vita horror puzzle game called Hotaru no Nikki. It was a neat release, but was ultimately heavily flawed and rage inducing. That being said, I can always appreciate when developers try their hands at something new, and I hoped that wouldn’t be the last of the weird stuff coming out of NIS.
Well, the new weird thing is here: Yomawari.
It’s a horror game in which you play as a little girl who loses her dog at night. Her big sister goes out to look for him, and subsequently goes missing as well. Taking it upon herself to find the two of them, the little girl heads into the dark town by herself, unaware of the things lurking in the shadows.
It’s a basic story premise delivered with an impressive amount of gravitas despite the lack of voice overs or traditional cutscenes. Things just kind of get moving, and after a shocking moment, you as the player realize that things have gone terribly terribly wrong. Armed with a flashlight and some rocks, most of the town appears to be open to you (some areas are blocked off by barricades), leaving you to explore at your leisure. Certain spots afford you cover from monsters, but generally speaking, lots of shit is out there waiting to kill you.
I’ve only played for about an hour, but found the experience to be suitably stressful. As of this writing, that’s a positive. I had my fair share of jump scares even in the brief time with the game, and the limited save system (you need to use a coin) means you have to play carefully. If Yomawari can continue to make me feel dread in new and interesting ways, this could be a sleeper hit.
As for its chances of going west: high. Hotaru no Nikki managed to, and this has a small script.
Kusunoki Yuuki once had a girlfriend, but after suffering an awful break up, he develops issues dealing with women. Afraid of being hurt again, he avoids them like the plague. Unfortunately for him, the city he lives in is going through something of a rebirth. They now hold all kinds of events in an attempt to get everyone in the city to fall in love. Borrowing the helping hand of his childhood friend Honoka, and his classmate Rin, he strives to find love once more.
It feels like it’s been ages since I last had to write up a galge in this column. As generic as Love Revenge appears to be, I can appreciate how standard it is. The character designs aren’t anything to shout about, but hey, every now and then we all need a little love in our lives, right?
Saijou Ren has spent a long time away from his home in Sakumo. In recent years, the district has undergone huge changes, not the least of which was the founding of Sakumo Academy. Students have their skills and knowledge groomed there, and those of them that get top grades earn the right to make changes to the academy itself. The student with the top marks at the school apparently receives something even more special.
Ren returns home to find his little sister all grown up, his childhood friend more beautiful than ever, and a beautiful street filled with cherry blossoms. In his first days at Sakumo Academy, he gets involved in some trouble and ends up saving a girl. She proposes to him, “Will you join my club? Let’s aim for Alia together, and change the school!”
I’m not particularly impressed by the art here, and while I’m sure we’re all sick of school dramas, I’ve certainly read worse galge premises. If this is your kind of thing and you read Japanese, this could be an ok buy.
[And that’s all for episode 18 of Go West! Next will unfortunately be relatively thin on interesting releases, but hey, can’t have cool stuff every time, right? Until next time: ciao!]