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As I type this, I am covetously inspecting my growing stockpile of canned goods and rice. Earlier I cleaned and loaded my Colt .45 Airsoft pistol with silencer and under barrel flashlight (think Metal Gear Solid 3). Within the next couple of hours I will be ready for what I am guessing is either going to be the zombocalypse, the Second Coming, WWIII, or possibly the release of a Vanilla Ice Greatest Hits album. One way or the other something bad is going to happen and I am going to be ready.

The Japanese are doing curious things that have tipped me off to our fast approaching doom, let me explain.

First, as I was browsing through the video game section of one of my local electronics stores I spotted a Japanese man loading up his shopping cart with: A) Halo 1,2, and 3 B) An Xbox Live membership card and C) one or two other 360 games that I couldn’t make out. Thinking that this was a fluke and that no Japanese person in their right mind would be caught dead owning a 360, I passed the encounter off as some crazy otaku simply collecting every game for every console known to man. Then the unthinkable happened, as I was whiling away my time in another store I see two more guys purchasing Halo 3. If that were not enough, one of my students informed me that he wanted an Xbox 360 and another kid agreed with him.

Microsoft has done something right in Japan finally. Japanese gamers are gobbling up copies of Halo 3 like they were used panties from one of the 13 year old idols in Akiba48. Since Halo 3 is doing pretty well here, that means Microsoft is actually selling a few consoles for the game to be played on. Beautiful Katamari was also released a week or so ago and that can only mean one thing, Japanese gamers rolling up more stuff from their own culture and country. While I think it is too early to say that Microsoft is going to dominate Japan in the near future, I will boast that they are definitely getting a foothold in a country that has been cool to receive them in the past.

Another signal of imminent demise comes from Sony. Even as they prepare to release a red version of the PSP that will change the world, not very many people seem to care about anything they do anymore. I can find used PS3s in almost every game store and shelves of PS3 stuff just seem to be sitting there. The country that once sacrificed farm animals and the occasional child at the altar of Sony seems to be waiting for something from the once awesome giant. One thing is for certain, not many people in Japan are buying the PS3.

A blow to Sony and a perk for Nintendo comes with the announcement that the next Monster Hunter game will be made for the Wii. This may not mean a ton for American gamers, but in Japan this is like finding a hooker and a bottle of single malt scotch in the same Christmas stocking. Japanese people love the Monster Hunter series and they adore the Wii; while this is definitely not a harbinger of doom, the news has made many of my students pleased as punch.

While touching on Nintendo, I should mention one more thing. As pretty much every gamer is now fully aware, Mario Galaxy has been released here and the general consensus is that it is probably one of the best games ever made. I have had kids tell me it is way better than Super Mario 3 or Mario World and that it rivals Mario 64 as far as the evolution of the series as a whole is concerned. I have deep conversations with my kids. These are mighty big claims and I would normally take them with a grain of salt but having talked to numerous Japanese school kids of varying ages, all of them agree the game kicks some Godzilla-sized ass. There are two nuggets of wisdom I have gathered throughout my years; when a fat man tells you that a piece of food is tasty, he probably knows what he is talking about. Likewise, when a Japanese kid tells you a video game is crazy good, odds are the game is pretty sweet. Next up will be the release of the new Smash Brothers and if it is half as good as Mario Galaxy seems to be, Nintendo is going to be bathing in vast wads of cash for the foreseeable future. I know people say that there are no good third party games for the Wii but who truly needs them as long as Nintendo makes a habit of kicking out awesome in-house titles?

Oh crap, I hear the scuffling of feet and undead moaning coming up the stairwell toward my apartment. Time to lock and load…pray for me.

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  1. Pingback: videolamer.com» Blog Archive » Numbers are fun - November ‘Nihilation on November 30, 2007

6 Comments

  1. SAGExSDX said on November 7, 2007:

    yes, it IS disorienting hearing that people actually want Xbox 360s in Japan. Very much so. Did you see this article about a survey done by Famitsu recently? http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3164071

  2. jay said on November 7, 2007:

    That Famitsu survey immediately jumped to mind. Pat and I had a good laugh at its findings but maybe it wasn’t as absurd as we assumed.

  3. Matt said on November 7, 2007:

    From what I’ve heard in the various tubes of these crazy inter-butterfly-nets, Japan has a large group of Western-centro gamers that do indeed buy games like Halo 3, and they usually get them on day one. The only problem is that there aren’t enough of them. Games like Halo 3 sell well the first week, but then drop off into obscurity the next. This is kind of like the whole Japanese RPG thing in America. Some gamers eat that shit up, but it’s usually only a small group of them.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong. I just love to read the words I type.

  4. Tyson said on November 8, 2007:

    Matt, there is a group of people here that do love Western games but most of those people are going to be in and around Tokyo and they have heaps of cash.

    Outside of Tokyo, hell, outside of Akihabara, finding foreign games can be likened to finding an Eskimo shaman willing to teach you the ancient art of snow ninjitsu. Even in Akihabara, the amount of money you can expect to shell out for an import game could buy you a reasonably priced hooker. An American Xbox 360 Elite in Akihabara costs $960.00USD. An American Wii runs about $500.00USD.

    I would guess that the guys I bumped into are just regular gamers and that is what I find so amazing. Had I witnessed this in Tokyo, I wouldn’t have written the article. These guys were in the sticks of Japan, two hours away from Kyoto or Osaka and five hours away from Tokyo. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time but Japanese don’t do road trips.

    I am anxious to see how Assassin’s Creed sells here because if it does well, it will disprove my theory as to why the 360 is picking up speed. Right now, I would guess that 3/4 of the people here that are buying a 360 are doing so to play Halo 3. I may be wrong but that is just about the only 360 game that gets any lip service from the people I have talked to.

  5. TrueTallus said on November 8, 2007:

    Give us a heads up if Assassin’s Creed does do well. I’m more interested to know if Mass Effect will do anything over in your neck of the woods. Has there ever been a respectable cult following for Western RPGs in your experience?

  6. Tyson said on November 8, 2007:

    Western RPGs don’t do horribly well for a couple of reasons.

    First, like all RPGs most are talk intensive and unless you know English or can find a localized copy, RPGs are difficult. The same is true for American fans of Japanese RPGs. I have found fewer fan-based translation attempts than what there is for Japanese to English.

    Second, the Japanese are obsessed with the traditional battle system that is found in damned near every RPG they produce. If a Western RPG were to catch on here, it would either have to be the Seraphim of games or it would have to have the Japanese battle system. This is a large reason I don’t think Oblivion ever had much of a shot here. There are not a ton of first person Japanese games.

    Lastly, there hasn’t exactly been an abundance of good American RPGs worthy of exportation in the past couple of years. To be honest, it is quite evident that the focus is shifting to MMORPGs and first person-styled games over traditional RPGs like Wizardry, Fallout, or even Neverwinter Nights and as I said, the Japanese are relatively new to the FPS realm.

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