Though the PS Vita doesn’t support multiple user accounts, it is at least region-free, so accessing a different region’s PSN store is only a matter of refreshing the system and signing in with a different account. (Cool tip: Keeping all your games and saves on-hand without having to transfer to and from your PC is feasible by using two memory cards, one for each account.) Every now and then I like to use my Japanese account to play some of the digital games I’ve bought from Japan’s PSN (e.g. Pop’n Music Portable 2, Rival Schools, Miku Miku Hockey), or to check out some of the latest demos exclusive to that region.
So here’s my thoughts on six recent Japan-only demos. Are they any fun? How many of them will get localized? Which titles are feasible to import and play without Japanese knowledge? Where have all the cowboys gone? I’ll answer all these questions and more in due time.
World Trigger: Borderless Mission
- Chance of localization? — I highly doubt it–not unless the next manga volume outsells Naruto
- Import-friendly? — Yes, it’s a straightforward action game; watch the anime for the story
- Do you get to run around punching giant dick badgers? — Oh yeah
I’ll be upfront and say I haven’t watched the anime or read the manga for this franchise. It looks like a pretty typical shounen fighter series. Not a genre I care for, but hey, I try to keep an open mind. This game piqued my interest, so I went ahead and gave it a try.
What do you know? It’s kind of fun. It’s rare for a low-tier anime tie-in game to have much effort put into it, so I was a bit surprised to find this a full-blown 3D action game. You control multiple characters and utilize a variety of abilities in order to take down the aliens rampaging the city. I’m assuming they’re aliens.
The glasses boy character (who I swear is in a bunch of other anime) is old enough to wield a rifle–I suppose Japan loosened up its gun control laws a bit once hundreds of ten-story aliens started showing up. He can also create an energy shield and fling energy blades from his hand? Pretty freaking nifty.
Then there’s the boy with the fluffy white hair; I’m assuming he is Nagito‘s younger brother. He can punch stuff. And fly! Pretty much. He makes strange faces in the low-budget visual novel segments.
The sniper of the team is this girl with the fat face. Actually a pretty unique character design there, so I rather like it. I’m also a fan of sniping in general. Sit back, relax, and just fire when the aliens stroll into your crosshairs. Life is good.
All in all, this game looks a lot like Earth Defense Force. Which is getting another Vita release this month? So maybe just pick that up instead, unless–of course–you happen to like World Trigger.
- Chance of localization? — It had damn better! Come on, based XSeed
- Import-friendly? — Yes, it’s an action game–though I suppose there’s a story you won’t follow
- Are the characters all gender-bending shapeshifters? — It sure looks that way
I often see complaints that the Vita gets no “AAA” games, but then I see a title like this come out in Japan and I think… yeah, this isn’t The Last of Us, but come on. There’s some nice big games still being made for the system in Japan. We just need to see them localized is all.
Tokyo Xanadu is a title that gets called an RPG, but all I did in this demo was run around and beat up a bunch of monsters with a sword, so I’m going to go ahead and say it’s actually an action game. (I’m sure you buy weapon upgrades or something at your base, but let’s be real, this is 3D hack-and-slash.)
The graphics are great. The characters are easy to control and have several abilities that are fun to take regular advantage of. The game never seems to slow down, either. The playable level in the demo has a dungeon RPG feel to it (so, you know, “hallways” is the name of the game for its level design), but it’s not bad. And with four different levels of difficulty to choose from, you can get just the right amount of challenge you want.
In the demo, you pick a team of two characters, and once on the battlefield you can switch instantaneously back and forth between them. Which looks funny to me, since there’s no “teleport” or anything–just POOF. But at any rate, the characters seem like they could be a fun bunch. Or at least look like they could guest star in the next Persona 4 spin-off game (kart racer, please).
Aegis of Earth
- Chance of localization? — Already confirmed for March! Thank you, Aksys Games
- Import-friendly? — No, it’s a strategy game with an ass ton of things to explain
- Is this what Detroit will look like in ten years? — Sometimes life imitates art
This game is called Zettai Geigeki Wars: Metropolis Defenders in Japan. Somehow that gets translated to Aegis of Earth for the West? Well, I’ll take it, lol. The Vita could use more strategy games, and this seems like a pretty unique entry for the genre.
It was hard for me to delve too much into this demo, as it is very text-heavy due to all the game mechanics the characters have to explain. But basically, there are two phases to the gameplay. The first phase has you in a sort of SimCity mode where you look over the nine circles of hell your jacked-up battle city. You build various buildings that help defend your metropolis in various ways. Choose carefully what units you need, and where you’ll put them!
The second phase is where the giant aliens (I’m assuming they’re aliens) designed by the Gravity Rush artist show up. It’s tower defense time. The beasts will march toward your city, and you had better hope you put up enough gun and cannon buildings to mow them all down before they wreck everything. You can select different “rings” in your city and rotate them whenever you wish, which is how you will get your attack buildings and defense buildings facing whatever direction is most helpful.
There’s a lot more to this one, but it’s hard for me to say much when my Japanese just isn’t that great. If I spent more time on it, perhaps I could tell more. But time is short, and there’s three more demos to cover.
- Chance of localization? — Already confirmed for spring release! Thanks… Acttil? (Good luck, Acttil?)
- Import-friendly? — No, it’s a full-blown RPG
- Is it possible for adults to kill giant monsters? — Obviously not
I have not had much experience with the niche subgenre known as “dungeon RPG.” These titles seem a lot like a regular turn-based RPG, but have an emphasis on walking first-person through maze-like dungeons. And pretty skeevy fanservice, judging by most recent releases. (Ray Gigant does not appear to have that latter focus though, for those who care.)
The first thing that stands out in this one is the animation. When it’s time to battle monsters, your character has both an idle animation and a prep-to-attack animation. There are also variations depending on how far away you are from the monster in question. It all looks great! The attacks themselves unfortunately aren’t animated though. (The game shifts to first-person “screen slash” view for attacks.)
The demo has a huge focus on the story, which I’m afraid I can’t go into a lot of detail for. Lots and lots of text for this one. These kids have to kill the monsters that have wrecked Japan, including some pretty huge ones. The protagonists attend what I take is a battle school, and there are nice details in having a post-apocalyptic nightmare displayed outside all the windows. You can choose where to go at the school, which I guess could change how things play out slightly.
I like the character artwork? There’s something a little different about the style used in this one. But yes, I rather like it.
God Eater Resurrection
- Chance of localization? — Namco Bandai works in mysterious ways (i.e. toss a coin on this one)
- Import-friendly? — Yes, it’s an action game; if you care about story, there’s the English PSP release
- Is this the most chuunibyou game ever made? — This is the most chuunibyou game ever made
This might be one of those games where I start to feel too old for video games??? No, I’m only kidding (sort of). But yes, this is another game where a bunch of kids are out killing monsters, and they lug around these huge swords that are twice as big as they are–and said huge swords can turn into demonic monster jaws that bite into enemies. And can turn into huge guns? And everyone’s dressed almost 8% as ridiculously as the characters in Kingdom Hearts (i.e. way too freaking ridiculous). Everybody’s too cool for school. Everybody is edgy! EVERYBODY WAS KUNG FU FIGHTING
If I’m following correctly this is a remake of the popular God Eater PSP game, so I think the main difference is the graphics upgrade. And indeed, the game looks quite nice! Having two analog sticks this time seems like a big upgrade for the game too (i.e. easier camera control). You make your own character and have at it. Loads of menus full of customization possibilities to sift through, and several missions in the demo to try out.
The only similar game I’ve played a lot for this “hunting/raid” subgenre is Freedom Wars, and I’m not sure which I like better in terms of controls. I really like that crazy grappling hook in the latter. And I couldn’t really figure out the shooting mechanic in God Eater. But the swordfighting seemed to control better? Also, you can jump, which I’m always for. Jumping is cool.
All of this said, I’m not sure this game’s quite on my wavelength. I mean, it looks nice, and seems to play fine. So if you’re a big fan of this subgenre of handheld games, be sure to give it a shot. Or hope for a localization? Bamco makes curious decisions sometimes when it comes to these things.
- Chance of localization? — Marvelous is reliable for this sort of thing! Also, English trophies leaked
- Import-friendly? — No, it’s a damn visual novel
- Where have all the cowboys gone? — They are generally found on ranches–many farmhands still herd cattle by horseback, even in this modern shittweeting world we live in
Ever since this game was announced in Japan, I had nothing but question marks over my head. What the hell is this game? Most of the screenshots made it out to be a visual novel–and indeed, that is what it is. But it’s also some kind of adventure game? The goal in this one, apparently, is to get the most Twitter followers in the world. That’s right. All those fake internet points? In Net High, they matter.
First of all, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Yes, the character artwork is by Sugi Kotaro, an artist famous for Gurren Lagann. Which is fitting, because from my experience with the demo, Net High is aiming to be as bombastic, over-the-top, and hot-blooded as a video game can get. “Wild and quirky” barely seems to scratch the surface here. This game is loaded with style, and the characters never stop making ridiculous faces.
I could barely follow what was going on in this story, because I didn’t want to spend a ton of time trying to translate everything. But suffice to say, just from the artwork and the voice acting, I was getting a lot of laughs from this one. This looks like a game with all the crazy style of Dangan Ronpa mixed with the goofy humor of Ace Attorney, which is more than enough for me to get excited for a potential Western release.
Please… be excited. And also, share this on Facebook??? Sharkberg could use the points!!!