I haven’t done a “Vintage Finds” post in quite a while, but that isn’t due to lack of awesome finds. In fact, I just scored a 50 cent grater the other day, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite kitchen utensils (freshly grated cheese! shredded vegetables!). But really, does anyone care? I figure this blog would be a lot more interesting to read if I had, at the very least, a hint of an overarching theme (it’s Japan-related stuff if you’re wondering). So no posts about cheese graters! But I did find some things yesterday that fit my self-imposed theme perfectly, so today marks the long-awaited return of the “Vintage Finds” series!
Now, you may not have heard (because I somehow completely neglected to blog about it), but I completely and utterly loved Journey. In fact, it’s the first game I’ve given a 5 out of 5 score over at VGW!
One thing I’ve found really intriguing about Journey is how positively it’s been received in Japan. A quick search for Kaze no Tabibito (the game’s Japanese title, literally “People of the Wind,” often shortened to Kazebito) on Google brings all sorts of discussion and fanart for the download-only title. I’m not aware how popular thatgamecompany’s previous games were in the land of the rising sun, but download-only titles generally never really gain a very high following due to the fact that Japan just hasn’t jumped on the online gaming bandwagon in the same way the rest of the world has.
Journey, however, appears (at least from a fan standpoint) to be changing that. There’s been a huge surge of fanworks for Journey from Japan in the recent weeks. Isn’t that fabulous? Now prepare to feast your eyes on some of the raddest Journey fanart around:
The above artist does the funniest illustrations! These selections are actually from a long strip of various images, and I highly recommend taking a look at the rest of them. You also need to take a look at the artist’s awesome Journey-themed Twitter page, even if you can’t understand Japanese. Too cute!
People who have played the game are probably wondering who on earth that bigger wanderer with the black robes is. Unless I’m missing something huge, he does not appear in the game anywhere, and is a product of fan imagination. What’s interesting about him is how popular he’s become, with various artists all over the internet depicting him as a sort of fatherly figure for the two, smaller wanderers. I don’t know about you, but I get a huge kick out of the above picture.
Update: Apparently the black and red wanderer is actually based on the game’s initial art from a series of prototypes released early on in the game’s development. The more you know!
I love how creative the fans are being with making new designs or imagining new scenarios for the wanderers. Did you see the Christmas-themed wanderer at the top left of the above image? Adorable!
Of course, I’m not discounting the amazing Journey fanart out there by artists who do not hail from Japan. I woudn’t have enough space to post all of the great work I’ve seen, even if I wanted to! But I think it’s worth highlighting how this title has really taken off in Japan. I hope we see much more love for download-only games in the future. But before I end this post, here’s one of my favorite pieces by a western artist (just so you all don’t think I’m playing favorite too much):
Have any Journey fanart you’d like to share? Feel free to do so in the comments!
Before Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom was released in English this past Valentine’s Day, otome games remained largely off the radar of the vast majority of western gamers. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Hakuoki hasn’t caused a huge surge of interest in otome games. Still, it’s been nice to see some people who wouldn’t normally pick up an otome game review Hakuoki or purchase it on a whim.
But reading about my friends’ and others’ first steps into the world of female-oriented visual novels and dating sims has reminded me how difficult the world of otome games can be for newcomers. I don’t by any means claim to be an authority, but there is one very important piece of advice that most fans of the genre often neglect to mention to inexperienced players that I’d like to make very clear:
In order to get a “good” end in an otome game, one must always select options with the character who’s ending they wish to obtain in mind.
This may seem so obvious that it’s not even necessary to state, but I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t realize that was how I needed to play when I picked up my very first otome game. Ah, Christopher of Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 2nd Season, we just weren’t meant to be…
|My first failed prospect|
When presented with a game like a visual novel that allows one to choose from multiple options in order to advance the story through various “paths,” you’d first think to choose answers would be based on what you would do in real life, no? Or, at the very least, a player might fashion a new persona for the sake of playing the game and choose options based on what kind of character they were role-playing as.
How would this strategy fit into an otome game, then? Under normal logic you would think that based on the various options you choose, a male prospect would be selected by the game for you. Otome games, however, are not so advanced, and in an effort to create some kind of difficulty, have a very strict, structured way that they must be played in order to obtain the best endings.
Otome games are based around the idea that the player is going into the experience with a favorite character already in mind, first and foremost. Whether visual novel-style or featuring more sim-based elements, otome games leave little to no room for changing one’s mind, meaning that from the second the “start” button is pressed, all energy must be focused on obtaining one, and only one, “datable” character. This is because set parameters must be met and/or extremely specific options selected in order to advance to the “right”path. Make one wrong decision and it’s a “normal” end, or worse, game over.
|It’s going to take a lot of trial and error to see scenes like these|
With so many paths and endings to obtain and sometimes seemingly arbitrary decisions that must be made in order to reach them, many players of otome games read walkthroughs before or during play. Though this may seem like it takes all the fun out of getting the right ending through trial and error, saving and reloading a game file every time you make a bad decision (and you often won’t know what was a bad decision until the end of the game) can get extremely frustrating. No one plays otome games for the difficulty, anyway, so the easiest and fastest way to see the whole story unfold is often the most preferable. Luckily, many titles such as Hakuoki offer visual cues to indicate when correct answers have been chosen, and relationship meters that can be viewed at any time to see how well you’re doing with the game’s various characters.
So, next time you want to jump in to Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom or other such otome game, take a moment to consider which male prospect you would like to pursue before loading up the game. Character-specific endings are always so much more fulfilling than the generic ones, and you may even find yourself drawn to a character you wouldn’t have found appealing otherwise!
But, I’ve gotta admit: it’s a little depressing when you first realize what your mother always told you about just being yourself won’t get you any guys. Hah!
I absolutely love libraries. Sometimes they’ll randomly get the most exciting things! I’ve been following the manga/anime series Wandering Son (Japanese title Hourou Musuko) for many months now, but I never expected my local library here in Brisbane, Australia to order not one, but multiple copies of the first two volumes! As such, I was finally able to sink my teeth into this series, which has been hailed in Japan and abroad as being a heartfelt and honest coming-of-age story that tackles issues surrounding gender identity.
|Venusaur by Mare Odomo|
|Dragonite by Chie Y. Boyd|
|Gloom by Julianna Brion|
|Clefable by Katie Turner|
For a mere 550 points (funny how every region uses a different “currency”), one of these babies could be yours. Well, if you live in Japan and haven’t spent your hard-earned coins on one of the many other awesome rewards that’s come out in the past few months.
What I find most exciting about this is the fact that you can completely customize what decal you want, the shirt color, and even the size. Don’t like the color combinations above? No problem, just head over to the Club Nintendo site and play around with the colors and images until you find something that you like. Just don’t blame me if, in doing so, you get really depressed about the fact that we’ll probably never see these outside of Japan.
It’s pretty obvious what I’d pick, but if you’re curious, I’d definitely have to go for the purple Animal Crossing cat. It’d look best on a pink or light blue tee, don’t you think? My runner up would have to be the heart capsules, but the Game & Watch one is pretty cute, too…
Man, I don’t even like polos!
I don’t believe I’m the only one who noticed that the new art direction for the sequel to Little King’s Story, titled The King, The Demon King and the 7 Princesses: New King Story (now that’s a mouthful), differs significantly from the original. Case in point:
|King Corobo from Little King’s Story|
|“New and improved” King Corobo|
I would be lying if I said I didn’t like his new character design at all, as I actually quite like the illustration above, but the fact of the matter is the original had such a unique, quirky art style that has been completely thrown out the window. I assume the majority of the reasoning behind the vast change in art style stems from the fact that anime/manga style art appeals to a much wider audience. With developer Cing dissolved, Marvelous Entertainment probably has free reign to do what they wish with the intellectual property rights. As such, we get this:
|In-game screenshot from Little King’s Story|
|New King’s Story. As you can see, the in-game graphics are ever-so-slightly more realistic.|