Criminal Girls 2, Censorship and AO East vs. West

As a fan of JRPGs and other niche Japanese games, I always find ratings standards differences between the U.S., Europe and Japan laughable.  Take Criminal Girls 2 as a perfect example.

As with the first in the series, Criminal Girls: Invite Only, “Punishment” will be framed as “Motivation,” and other terminology changes from the first game will also apply here … This reduces the power distance between the player character and the girls in the Reformation Program and makes the activities of the game more consensual.

… and …

Some of this [no Motivation Scene Dialogue]  could cause an issue with power distance, or perceived consent of the activities of the game.

I give NIS America kudos for taking the time to spell out exactly what is being censored, but I disagree with censorship.  Let’s let the consumer decide, and if an anime based JRPG influenced game is really worthy of an AO rating in the U.S., something is very wrong. Violence is always condoned over sexual themes.

Just compare the newest Doom (hint – violence link) to the first Criminal Girls title (hint – sexual themes) to drive the point home …

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Speaking of JRPGs (Atelier Rorona – Vita)

After just throwing up a link for Neptunia on the Vita, now we get Atelier Rorona for the Vita:

Gust just published a new batch of information, screenshots and artwork of New Atelier Rorona The Origin Story: The Alchemist of Arland, which is the upcoming PS3 and PS Vita remake of the classic JRPG Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland and will hit the Japanese shelves on November the 21st.

It’s not as if I have every finished one of these fetch, mix and match some potions, etc. type games, but I like to pretend that I am much younger and have time for such indulgences. Of course I am not, but I digress …

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Vita Sunday Brunch

Lots of random stuff, most centered around Gamescom 2012 news and announcements, so let’s get started straight away …

PSOne Compatibility in Sight
Finally! The long awaited feature to play PSOne games on our Vita is almost launched. No idea what took so long, but hopefully Sony pulls this off without a hitch.

Why play 15+ year old games on the Vita? Why not – there are a ton of classics just waiting to be found and enjoyed. As part of the launch, it would be nice if Sony features some sort of PSN PSOne sale to coincide with the firmware update, and certainly throwing in a couple of classics as part of the PS+ update would be appreciated.

Vita Gets PS+
Speaking of PS+, the Vita finally gets some love.

We will also deliver PlayStation Plus, which is currently available for PS3 users, to PS Vita users this year. By purchasing a membership to PlayStation Plus, PS Vita users will be able to enjoy various services which will become available exclusively for members.

I really expected Sony to push PS+ as part of E3, but they waited until Gamescon to final admit they have a wonderful system that needs some TLC. Depending on how they position PS+ for the Vita (hopefully not just the “services” part), Sony should have a compelling offering on their hands. Even if Sony only provides occasional PSOne, PSP, and minis (OK, I don’t really care about the Minis), PS+ on the Vita should be well received.

If nothing else, precious memory card space could be freed up by transferring occasionally played game saves to the Cloud Game Save service.

Tearaway
I love the stylistic look of Tearaway; fantastic looking game.

Hopefully this one progresses nicely, and the Vita’s features do not get in the way of the fun or come across as mere gimmicks.

Gravity Rush DLC Articles
I’m not very far into Gravity Rush, but at some point I intend to pick up the Maid Pack and Special Forces Pack DLC. One of these days. At any rate, I thought the reviewer did a good job of providing some decent commentary on the merits of the DLC.

COD: Black Ops Declassified
I’m not a fan of military shooters so I don’t intend to pick up COD: Black Ops Declassified. According to EDGE, it looks to be a train-wreck, while the official’ish Sony Blog makes it sound spectacular. Unless the release is delayed, I see this one falling flat and living COD fans disappointed; not the system seller Sony needs to push the Vita.

Ragnarok Odyssey Gets Delayed
Technically it’s not a delay if a release date was never set for August 21, which was the case at the time of my original pre-order. Amazon now estimated an October 19 arrival date, which may or may not be “official” but certainly this could be too close to the November 20 P4G release.

Ragnarok Odyssey has been on my radar for a while; starved JRPG fans get sort of desperate that way.

Speaking Of JRPGs
Ys Celceta: Sea of Trees [There is no way that title doesn’t get changed in the localization process; assuming the game makes it to NA.] continues to look impressive, but P4G is the real prize and now you can get a preorder bonus. I don’t really care for the skin, but I’m sure some Persona nuts will get all teary eyed over for this one.

Vita Should Go Digital Only?
I don’t think so, but this article from Game Insider makes a case for revamping the Vita to include physical memory, digital only gaming (even though the PSP Go was a miserable failure), and removing 3G support. I disagree with these points, but physical memory is an issue. The article is well written and worth a read.

Cross Buy
Sony looks to be pushing Cross Buy with games like Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault.

Not only will the game feature cross-play and cross-save, but it’s also part of a super-cool promotional offer where anyone who purchases Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault for PS3 via PlayStation Network will be able to download the PS Vita version of the game from PSN at no additional cost and vice versa.

No complaints from this gamer. This approach can only help the Vita. It should be interesting to see if any Third Party partners offer something similar; doubtful, but worth watching.

Happy Sunday!

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Sony Sends Mixed Messages with PSP RPGs

OK, it’s not Sony, but maybe it is. I really don’t understand why Sony continues to push the PSP. OK, I do; it’s all about money, finances, and sells opportunities. The PSP has a huge installed base, while the Vita is struggling to get out of Sony’s birth cannel.

I guess what I don’t understand is why can’t Sony assist publishers in making PSP games Vita compliant. Case in point Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time.

Some of the comments say it best. The Vita needs support and by continuing to throw out PSP games that are not day one Vita supported, Sony or Atlus in this case, are really contributing to the failure of the struggling Vita.

So far the Wayfarer of Time has received limited, but decent reviews. I still have my PSP, but it’s time to move on to the Vita, only Sony will not help its own cause.

Thankfully Ragnarok Odyssey for the Vita is due shortly, as in (tentatively according to most retailers including Amazon where I have my preorder) later this month.

XSEED PR suggested that I think of Monster Hunter bosses. Actually, much of the game is very reminiscent of Monster Hunter. The comparison is inevitable with 87 quests ranging from five to 20 minutes apiece, three lives to confront each quest, four-player co-op (local or Wi-Fi), and a large array of unlockable armor sets.

The core gameplay might look familiar, but it takes major inspiration from a very different Capcom franchise: Devil May Cry.

Of course it’s not Monster Hunters … but it should be a decent shot in the arm for Vita RPG fans. I have never been a huge DMC fan; too damn old for all that fancy trigger work. My dexterity is not what it used to be! I’m still anticipating Ragnarok, but according to the official’ish PlayStation Blog, Ragnarok Odyssey may not be out in August, as no “official” release date has been confirmed.

Somewhere between Ragnarok and Persona 4: Golden (P4G), Vita loving RPG fans should become a happy lot. Of course these two releases may not be enough to push the needle, but at least it’s a start. Now, if only Sony would stop putting out mixed message, and provide more PSP-to-Vita support, we could only start living happily ever after!

[Edit Aug. 10:  So apparently Growlanser is now Vita compatible, only Sony hasn’t put it on the PSN Vita store.  Instead, you have to go to the PSN PS3 store to purchase, download, and transfer to your Vita.  Nice one …] 

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RPG Heaven? Ni no Kuni and Tales of Xillia

It has been forever and a day since I last posted RPG’ish type updates on consecutive days.

First, Namco has an interesting preorder for Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – something called the Wizard’s Edition.

The Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – Wizard’s Edition will include:

300+ page hardback physical copy of the Wizard’s Companion, the spellbook Oliver uses throughout his journey in the game. The full-color Wizard’s Companion contains a bestiary of all the creatures found in the game along with in-depth item descriptions, spells and history of the other world.

The limited-run Wizard’s Edition will also contain a plush doll of Drippy, Oliver’s guide through his adventures, as well as exclusive “golden mite” and “golden drongo” DLC familiars.

I don’t care that much for the plush doll, but the Wizard’s Companion looks to be pretty special coming in at 300+ pages. $108.89 ($99.99 + shipping) is a pretty steep hill to climb, but the game does look very charming. Not sure if this limited edition will hold its value; really depends on if it is original print Demon’s Souls with mini strategy guide (the one that wore out with little use) limited, or more widely available.

Tales of Xillia
I really don’t know that much about Tales of Xillia, but I say the more JRPGs the better. Hopefully it does well enough for Namco Bandai to continue localization efforts for future JRPG goodness.

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RPG Madness? Mugen Souls (PS3) – Preorder Goodness

Thanks to the fine folks at NIS America, I now have the Mugen Souls Limited Edition with Figure Set on preorder.

What do you get for $99.99 (or less if you have NIS America store coupons – price also includes free shipping and no sales tax)?

This Limited Edition plus Figure Set features Mugen Souls for PS3, a hardcover art book, a Mugen Souls OST, a Shampuru Bath Set (hand towel + sponge), and Nendoroid Petite Figures.

Why did I make this preorder sight unseen? Three reasons. First, I really enjoy JRPG style games. Second, in order to get more off the beaten path JRPG style games, I support the fine folks at NIS America. Third and final reason, these sort of collectable editions always hold their weight (and then some) for later resell, as supplies are limited and these games are super collectable. In fact, when funds allow, I normally buy two copies – one to keep, and one for future profits. This helps me and also awards NIS America with (hopefully) great profits.

Mugen Souls looks crazy fun. We should find out more info in the lead up to its September 18th release. Oh, and don’t ask me what do you do with the Shampuru body sponge and hand towel!

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Vita RPGs Release Dates Torturously Slow

For RPG fans, the PSP was a godsend, with a huge variety of classics, lots of Final Fantasy (FF) options, and plenty of newer high quality RPG titles to explore. Not so much with the Vita, however at the 5+ month mark, it should be noted that the Vita is still in its early days.

Of course the Vita has the ability to play some PSP RPGs that are offered via PSN, but where do Vita owners that want new RPG experiences, and I might add Trophies, turn?

With the announcement that FF X HD is miles away, it looks like Xseed’s Ragnarok Odyssey, with an August 21 release, is the closest Vita RPG loving fans are going to get to RPG drought relief. I have had Ragnarok Odyssey on preorder for a while, so hopefully it is decent.

On the Japanese import front, Ys Celceta: Sea of Trees, is being release September 27. There is no word on this one receiving US localization support, but if it does, hopefully the name will be changed to something a little more Western’ish.

Despite the outcry from fans that Atlus is forcibly (via software) region locking Persona 4, it is still rapidly approaching an October release.

Of course RPG fans can always pick up fan-favorite Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention, which is a completely different than normal RPG fare. Disgaea is turn based, over the top, entertaining, and has layers of depth upon layers of depth. Something like that.

To be honest, I have only just touched the surface. While the game is entertaining, amusing may be a better description, I don’t usually have the time commitment required to go in deep for my Vita sessions. One of these days I will have to check out the GPS Mode and see what sort of trinkets the developers embedded for 3GS Vita Disgaea play on the go.

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This Week In Video Game Sex

According to FoxNews, a segment of gamers are going berserk over the sexualization Laura Croft because of an E3 promo video that shows an implied almost rape scene.

Whether the scene is playable or not, gamers were adamant that using violence as titillation was offensive, sexist and unnecessary.

In general, I enjoy FoxNews; in fact, I read the site daily. With that said – WTF? What part of this video was titillating? Maybe for gamers with offbeat fetishes or younger gamers that hope and pray for a glimpse of a digital tit.

Is the scene Unnecessary? Yes. Offensive? I’m not so easily offended.

Crystal Dynamics has said they want gamers to protect a vulnerable Miss. Croft. Whatever. I just hope the game is decent. In the meantime, I got a kick out of reading all the comments on the GameTrailers forum.

Atelier and Neptunia
[Adult Content Warning – The next few links are NOT safe for work, and probably not anywhere else for that matter. You have been warned!]

Now if you really want to talk about the sexualization of female gaming characters, meet Atelier Meruru. Not that I’m complaining; I like the series for what it is, and I don’t think playing it makes me a pervert. Who am I to judge myself?

Keeping with the theme of sexualized girls, for your amusement, according to the unwashed masses, the Hyperdimension Neptunia series is all about the sexualization of young girls. In face, some would say Neptunia is too over the top, solely concentrating on the ogling of the lolita characters, and to be honest … well, play Neptunia or Neptunia mk2 and judge for yourself …

Neptunia’s premise is a thin excuse for a role-playing game that revolves around hypersexualized young girls.

Apparently Neptunia V is more over the top that ever, but at least one of the girls will be more, how shall I say it, endowed than previous characters, perhaps making the game more accessible.

You really have to take the Neptunia series with a grain of salt – you either “get it” and enjoy playing this sort of JRPG, you “get it” but realize that the gameplay mechanics are not on par with other JRPGs, or you just don’t get it.

I pick up pretty much all manner of JRPGs, especially collector and premium editions. If nothing else, I can always flip them on eBay down the road for a nice profit. I would be remiss to not point out that the production values from NIS America for their Atelier and Neptunia releases are second to none, which at least shows that video game sexualization of young girls can be done in style.

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Now Playing (End of May Edition)

As summer starts to bloom, I finally decided to pick up Flower as part of the recent ThatGameCompany sale ($4.89 via PS+ discount). What a wonderful experience; when games become art, they really become immersive media, moving beyond the realm of typical game-playing sessions and evolving into said experience.

I haven’t spent a ton of time with it (too many other distractions as you can see from this post), but I would say that it is a stronger outing than their initial flOw, but not as emotionally captivating as their recent Journey outing. Wow; I’m becoming a softie in my old age.

Final Fantasy XIII (some XIII-2)
I swore to myself (seriously) and told my boys that I wouldn’t start XIII-2 until I finished the mainline FF XIII story. Two years after its initial release, I finally got around to doing the needful.

I’m not sure if I will actually Platinum FF XIII; I probably don’t have the time or strength of character to grind, grind, grind. With that said, I am still plugging along and having a good time with it. At some point I will have to put it down and fully focus of XIII-2; until then, I hope to pick up another “you have put too much time into this game” trophy or two.

Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale
Speaking of RPGs, Daggerdale was just released on the PSN. It is the rare purchase for me to actually pick something up day one at full price; in this case $14.99.

I’m a sucker for fun hack-and-slash experiences, and this one carries the full backing of the Dungeons & Dragons 4E rules system.

I’m only a couple of hours in, so I can’t really comment on the game play mechanics, but playing with the human warrior is pretty much what I expected. Pick up a quest, smash barrels for treasure, fight some bad guys (goblins and skeletons so far), rinse and repeat. I’m at level 2, and have only died once by stupidly falling off a high ledge while fighting a skeleton. I forced Mr. Bones off the ledge and thought I would follow; to my death.

Madden 12
I have been playing this one a little here and there in order to satisfy my football gaming jones, but mostly to finish it out and pick up the Platinum. I only need the 2 Ultimate Team (10 and 20) games played and I will score a new shiny. The truth is that I swore I would stay away from Ultimate Team so that I wouldn’t be tempted to throw real money at virtual cards. For the most part that has worked, but I did have one weak moment; money was sitting in my wallet, so I did flip some for a Gold pack. Yes, I’m weak.

For the most part Madden is a super easy Platinum. Over the holiday weekend I finished off a couple of the trophies with help from my two oldest boys – yes, we “gamed” (err cheated) the system by turning down the CPU AI to be weak as a kitten, but we had a good time playing, which is what life (and gaming) is all about. Speaking of quality family gaming …

LittleBigPlanent 2
I haven’t played this one is a while, but it’s a great game to play with my boys (all three – 13, 9.11, and 5). LBP provides infinite possibilities, is fun creative outlet, hilarious at times (watching each other die or do otherwise stupid tricks), etc.

Speaking of LBP, I’m still anxiously looking forward to the Vita version.

Waiting Game …
As I wait on my “Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland Limited Edition: Grand Finale Set” NIS America store, to arrive today or tomorrow, I keep looking at my backlog of RPGs and shake my head. I’ll never get to them all, but it is a nice problem to have. At the same time, I start looking forward to the next round of Gust instant classics (i.e. Atelier Ayesha). I’m hopeless …

Same for Gravity Rush (Vita – June 12); it has received extremely positive reviews, but not sure that it will be a system seller or marketed as such. I’ll be happy with a quality game that provides some new Vita experiences.

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Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 Ships

I just received my confirmation from NIS America that they have finally shipped Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 Limited Edition: Gamindustri Savior Set.

This bundle has all sorts of fan goodies: A special oversized Premium Box (because it has to fit in all the fan service), a full color hardcover art book, an exclusive playing card deck (that I’m sure I will never play), and a Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 original sound track (I’m going to have this crap dancing in my head). Almost forgot the actual game is also included, which is of course the best part.

Yummy …

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Not going to translate …

The art style that continues to pop up here and there for Ciel no sourge looks wonderful, but there is no what that this Vita game will be localized for the U.S.

If I knew a lick of Japanese I would import this beauty, but I don’t, so I guess I will keep my fingers crossed for NIS America (or some other brave publisher of would be niche titles) to pick this one up for later this year.

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Pre Orders – The Waiting Game …

I’ll never learn; there are way more purchases, potential purchases, and upcoming “need to have that one” targets than I will ever have time to play.

So what’s next?

  • SSX (PS3): February 28. On preorder. It has been a long run since the PS2 Tricky heydays. Hopefully the franchise has a nice rebound, but I don’t want to see a fast follower release. Hopefully some DLC will enhance the experience vs. a second release in 9-18 months.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 (super-secret, premium edition from NIS America store – PS3): February 28. On preorder. Honestly, I try to stop, but I really can’t help myself.
  • MLB 12 The Show (PS3 / Vita): March 6. I’m sure I’ll cave one day this week and purchase one or both titles. Love the idea of taking the game save on the go and then transferring back. I’m not traveling much right now, so it may not be necessary to get the Vita version, but I suspect that I may get in a little more baseball action via the Vita than the PS3 and TV.
  • Tales of Graces f (PS3): March 12. On preorder. Reality tells me that I will not even start this one anytime soon, but I want to send a message to the publisher that this sort of game is still relevant.
  • Dragon’s Crown (Vita): March 31. On preorder. Hack and Slash on the go goodness? Count me in!
  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention (Vita): April 17. I want this one, but haven’t convinced myself to hit the order button. Why? Why would I think I have anywhere near enough time to really enjoy a Disgaea title?
  • Gravity Rush (Vita): May 29. On preorder. This is going to turn into the must have title on the Vita, supplanting Uncharted, assuming GR gets some decent airtime and marketing.
  • LittleBigPlanet (Vita): June 26. On preorder. Because LBP is just balls out fun, I cannot get enough, and I’m interested in seeing how the franchise transfers to the Vita.

Of course in addition to my normal backlog, I have the new Vita games, and Twisted Metal. In the words of the great Ricky Bobby, “Well let me just quote the late-great Colonel Sanders, who said…“I’m too drunk to taste this chicken.”

… or have enough time to play all of these games!

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Ciel nosurge – Fairy Dating Made Expensive

If and when Ciel nosurge gets a U.S. release, hopefully we will receive an all-in-one bundle, and not have to deal with a base game plus DLC episodes [Link: ADULT Content WARNING].

It’s my understanding that Japanese gamers eat up dating simulations like hotcakes, but maybe not so much for the Western gaming audience. Since these releases are few and far between in the U.S., they quickly gain niche and cult following status. At a minimum, I pick up anything like Ciel nosurge [Link: ADULT Content WARNING], especially in offered limited edition packages because I know I can flip them in the future on eBay for huge ROI.

Gust’s upcoming PS Vita moeblob-dating sim “Ciel nosurge” has been attracting a great deal of favourable attention online, and looks set to become the most hotly anticipated title on the Vita – at least amongst the creepy otaku demographic.

I certainly don’t think I fall into any sort of creepy demographic [so says me!]. The art style looks fantastic, which for me is the hook. Put it this way, the Vita needs RPGs, Gust via NIS America has some splendid ones, so hopefully Ciel nosurge gets a U.S. release. Besides, what’s not to like? Fairy courting? Sign me up.

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Vita Countdown (Four More Sleeps)

February 15 is tumbling towards us quickly, along with the start of soccer practice for my nine year-old son (and yours truly co-coaching), Valentine’s Day, the newest Twisted Metal, and of course the Vita.

How are these all connected you may ask? Let’s take these in quick succession.

Soccer practice will be Monday and Wednesday, meaning that I will not be sitting on my ass playing the Vita Wednesday night. That’s OK, said ass needs a workout.

Valentine’s Day will also see the release of Twisted Metal. Play it too much, and no needful for me. With the Vita arriving just a day later, I figured I better hook my wife up with something nice – can you say jewelry from Blue Nile? Some nice garnet earrings and matching pendent; Blue Nile is truly a best friend, always helping me out of those tough spots like new a Vita and a host of games showing up as bookends to V-Day.

Which does in fact bring us to the Vita. While the anticipation is building, one of my burning desires is that the Vita turns into a quality RPG producing machine, along the lines of the PSP, which was really underrated in this respect. Hopefully the next Atelier receives a U.S. localization effort.

It was confirmed earlier this week that long suffering U.S. Vita fans will not receive a UMD Passport offer, allowing PSP owners with large UMD libraries to quickly port their content to digital media for a modest price.

While the lack of a U.S. UMD Passport program is disappointing, I can accept that the Vita will not offer a means of being directly backwards compatible with PSP UMDs. I find it very disappointing that as of right now, the Vita is not compatible with PSOne titles.

I’m not sure why Sony would not at least attempt to flip a few bucks on a limited UMD Passport offering, which would obviously be restricted to the PSP titles available via the PSN store. There are so many ways that Sony could play this, and capitalize on PSP owners converting (upgrading) to the Vita, and their desire to have some of their favorite UMDs still accessible on the Vita.

My approach will be fairly simple. I’ll keep a few of my favorite PSP titles, flip a few more on eBay, and the rest will go to one of my PSP owning boys.

I’m sure there are all sorts of licensing issues to overcome, but if Sony could in Japan, there is reason to think that Sony could have managed some limited UMD Passport effort in the U.S. It is really too bad because this sort of short sightedness could cost Sony some much needed sales.

The Trophy whore in me loves that I can now (on Feb 15th at any rate) rack up trophies on the go. I can’t imagine spending much time with Little Deviants, except to get some trophy boosting, but since it is a throw in with my early release bundle thingy, boost I will.

Whew! That’s enough for early Saturday morning. Time for another cup of coffee; truly the nectar of the gods. Happy Saturday!

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