Occasionally I write articles for sites that aren’t my own (gasp!), and last week I had the opportunity to write my own particular spin on the recent Nintendo Switch news explosion for ZAM.com. The most appealing aspects of the Switch for me are that it 1. is region free and 2. already has a bunch of “niche” games in development (think funky JRPGs, import-only titles, and revivals of forgotten favs), so I combined them into a piece on 3 reasons why the Nintendo Switch has the potential to be a great system for niche game fans. For the third reason, and some elaboration on why those things are so exciting to me, head over to ZAM and read my piece!
I definitely have a lot of additional thoughts on the Nintendo Switch that didn’t fit the scope of the article, which I discuss in detail with my podcast cohost Sarah on an upcoming episode of Chic Pixel Plus. In the meantime, I’ll be honest and say the promise of games in the future is not enough for me to purchase a console day one, so I don’t envision myself getting a Switch anytime soon. Plus, I’ve made one of my personal goals to finish 5 games in my free time this year (i.e. not for review), so I have plenty of things in my backlog to work on!
I would love to know: are you planning on getting a Nintendo Switch day one? What games are you most looking forward to? Leave your thoughts in the comments! And if you haven’t preordered one yet, grab yours at Amazon, a Chic Pixel affiliate, to help support the site!
I finally let the dog out of the proverbial bag this past weekend on social media, but if you missed it: we’re getting a shiba inu puppy! We’ve named her Pai Pai, and she’ll be coming home with us after she turns eight weeks old in a week.
In the many months I’ve been pining away for a puppy of our own, I’ve looked at my fair share of shiba inu photos on Instagram. If you think these dogs are as adorable as I do, then allow me to recommend some of my favorite accounts for getting your daily shiba fix! And don’t worry, once Pai Pai comes home, you will definitely be able to add my account to the list…
Maru (marutaro) – Maru is by far the most famous shiba inu on social media, but it’s not without good reason. His adorable round mug is extremely photogenic, scoring him many impressive photo ops and millions of adoring fans. He also has his own blog, with additional photos that don’t get posted to Instagram. The text is all in Japanese, but it would make a great study tool for those learning Japanese! Or you could always just enjoy the photos, since cuteness transcends all language barriers.
Sakura (oliveeeeeee) – One of my favorite aspects of Sakura the shiba inu’s Instagram is that her owner posts photos from when she was a puppy, despite the fact that she’s all grown up now! While it can be a little confusing for new followers, it’s so fun to see flashbacks to her puppy days mixed in with current photos. The photos of her with her family show what a great bond they have, as well.
Hoku (hellohoku) – In terms of visually impressive photographs, Hoku’s account takes the cake. His family has a penchant for hiking, so if photos of a shiba in gorgeous scenic settings sound up your alley, head over to Hoku’s account this instant! I also love how his owner frames the shots in a variety of ways and utilizes bright, airy colors.
Ume (nao_ume42013) – In contrast to the blues and whites of Hoku’s feed, Ume’s feed generally features a warm, yellow tinge. Perfect for snuggling! If shiba inus are just one of many of your Japan-related interests, you’ll be happy to see images of Japanese food and interiors in addition to Ume’s adorable face. Like Maru, Ume has a blog as well, so check it out!
Ron (ronvenisuke) – Ron is yet another handsome male shiba, but he stands out for the “welcome home” videos his owner posts nearly every day. It’s so funny to see how his mood changes from day to day! I have a similar hallway at the entry to my apartment, so I wonder how Pai Pai will greet me when I come home…
Do you have any favorite animals on Instagram, shiba inu or otherwise? Share them in the comments!
Many times, my first impression of an anime comes from its opening. They’ve had such an impact on me that at least half of my music library consists of anime opening themes! An opening isn’t just about the music, though: for it to really succeed, it must pair the song with evocative animated sequences that get you excited to watch the upcoming episode. A really good opening has you glued to the screen for the whole duration, and that’s exactly how I felt about the following five anime openings from 2015:
Things have been a little quiet here at Chic Pixel during the holiday, but now that I’m feeling refreshed and recharged, it’s time to get back in the posting groove! And what better way than with some best of 2015 lists? First, I’d like to share my five favorite video games that came out this year. There are many (so, so many) games that came out in 2015 I still need to play, so please keep in mind that the titles that appear here are simply those I put enough time into to consider. But enough with the caveats… on with the list!
Idea Factory International is scheduled to have their first ever press event sometime next month, and I’m crossing everything that can be crossed in hopes that they announce an otome game localization for the PS Vita. It’s been a little over a year since they first commenced operations on September 30th, 2013, and despite a wealth of otome games in the Otomate line at their disposal, they have yet to release, let alone announce, a single title.
But why haven’t they? Comments from publishers in the past have alluded to the immense amount of money and work that goes into localizing the book’s worth of text in the usual otome game, but dialogue-heavy RPGs such as Idea Factory International’s Hyperdimension Neptunia must be a similarly text-heavy affairs. Of course, there’s also the argument that series such as Hyperdimension Neptunia already have an established audience in English, whereas many otome games do not, but Idea Factory International has already had relatively good success with a number of games in their Hakuouki otome game series on various platforms (most recently smartphones).Idea Factory International has already published a number of games from one of its subsidiaries, Compile Heart, so it’s not a stretch to assume that it could just as conceivably work with its otome game subsidiary, Otomate, to bring one or more PS Vita games to an English-speaking audience.
I contacted Idea Factory International regarding the inclusion of certain Japanese games on the site, but was told by Marketing Coordinator David Alonzo that it did not indicate an intent to localize said games. If nothing else, however, it shows that Idea Factory International has some interest in informing English-speaking fans about their otome games, though they haven’t kept their site up to date with every single release.Looking at the game section of Idea Factory International’s website, it’s interesting to note that there are two listings for Japan-only PS Vita otome games, Hakuouki SSL ~sweet school life~ and AMNESIA World, both spinoff titles for their respective series. With new games coming out from Otomate nearly every other month, it’s noteworthy that these are the only two Japan-only PS Vita otome games listed on their site.
It’s also worth mentioning that a new company called Otomate World recently launched a website, Facebook, and Twitter account. So far, it has only been used to promote iOS and Android versions of Hakuouki, which currently only appear to be available in Asian markets (when I attempted to view Hakuouki in iTunes, for example, it asked me to switch to the Vietnamese store). These smartphone versions of Hakuouki do not appear on Idea Factory International’s website.
But is it necessary to appeal to a broad audience for an otome game to be successful in English? While smartphone games are certainly easier to get into people’s hands due to nearly everyone owning a device that can play them, the fact that the Shall We Date?series and others have seen so many installments suggests that there is definitely a market for otome games in English. Unfortunately, most console otome games over the past few years have been released for the PSP, and it’s not a stretch to say putting the effort to localize and release a PSP otome game in English in 2015 would be financial suicide. However, the PS Vita is seeing more and more otome games, particularly from Otomate, and while the install base is but a fraction of the smartphone market, have Hakuouki and Sweet Fuse not proved that there is room for otome games on underdog handhelds?In response to my request for a comment regarding the potential of Idea Factory International localizing an otome game, David replied, “I will say that we’ve heard a lot of requests from people to bring over certain otome titles, and I think it’d be awesome to do so! Hopefully we can do so in the future, but for now we don’t have any news about that.”Notably, the company has a section in its forums for localization requests that features an otome game thread that was created in November 2013 and remains relatively active. Otome game fans seem particularly interested in AMNESIA, which was also one of the top requests in Aksys Games’ forums (which are currently down, so unfortunately I can’t provide a link to that thread). AMNESIA, Diabolik Lovers, and Hakuouki are undoubtedly Otomate’s most popular series in Japan currently, but the fact that Hakuoki is the one to have received an English release suggests that AMNESIA and Diabolik Lovers might not have as wide-reaching appeal (as someone who has played both, I can attest to that).
I was originally going to make this article a list of otome games I would like to see announced at Idea Factory International’s press event, but in all honesty, I don’t care. There are so many Otomate titles to choose from on the PS Vita now, from AMNESIA and Diabolik Lovers to Code: Realize ~Sousei no himegimi~, Binary Star, RE: VICE[D], Kokuchou no Psychedelica, upcoming Shinobi, Koi Utsutsu, and more, that I would be happy to support whatever it thinks will be most successful. But if Idea Factory International announces the rest of its lineup for 2015 and chooses not to include an otome game, I feel it will be making a clear statement that handheld otome games are not an avenue it does not consider worth exploring.I don’t profess to assume anything about the business end of games localization, and don’t want to sound like I am dismissing the risks involved with localizing games with very niche audience. However, we have seen time and time again that western publishers are happy to take risks with titles that will appeal to the hardcore “otaku” crowd, such as Idea Factory International with Monster Monpiece and NIS America with Criminal Girls, both of which required editing out potentially offensive content in order to release in western markets (it’s worth noting that despite getting a European release, Monster Monpiece never made it to Australia).
I really hope, for the diversity of niche Japanese games in English, that my cynicism is proved wrong.
Update:IFI announced that they’ll be localizing AMNESIA under the title Amnesia: Memories!
Note: I don’t intend to discredit the importance of smartphone otome games, but rather assert that there is a wide range of quality games being released on the PS Vita that would be great candidates for potential English releases.
A self-indulging celebration, or a critical look at otaku consumption practices? “ME!ME!ME!” is a short animation that debuted on November 21st as part of the Japan Animation Expo, a project between famed anime director Hideaki Anno’s Studio Khara and Dwango that showcases young animators. While two shorts came before it, with one more releasing every week until all 30 have been posted online, “ME!ME!ME!” has undoubtedly been receiving themost attention for its striking visual style, catchy soundtrack, and dark themes.
The buzz surrounding “ME!ME!ME!” is almost certainly justified, but when poking around the internet, I didn’t find much in the way of long-form discussion outside of forum threads about what I found to be very harsh condemnation of the specific style of media consumption exhibited by the protagonist of the video. Instead of focusing on my personal interpretation, however, I thought it would be more interesting to kickstart discussion by using this article to attempt to illustrate just how complex “ME!ME!ME!” is.
“ME!ME!ME!” is very much a music video for “ME!ME!ME! feat. daoko” by TeddyLoid, a DJ and electronica musician notable for his contribution to the Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt anime, a series which shares a number of similarities to the short. Directed by Hibiki Yoshizaki, a member of Studio Khara who has previously worked on the anime Yozakura Quartet and Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, and animated by members of the Little Witch Academia animation team, “ME!ME!ME!” is a real star-studded effort. Megumi Hayashibara and Kouichi Yamadera have provided voices, as well.
Before reading on, I highly suggest watching “ME!ME!ME!,” and if you already have, why not watch it again? At the time of this post I’ve seen it about five times, as I found that it moves so fast that it’s extremely hard to pick up on everything the first or even second time though. Keep in mind that the video features many animated naked women in suggestive poses, along with a couple brief but graphic scenes of gore, making it most definitely not work viewing material. I’m being careful of the number of nude/gory stills I include, but be warned that due to the content of the video and in the interest of opening an informed discussion, it’s not possible for me to omit them entirely. I’ve also included a whopping 45 screenshots, so beware that the rest of the post is quite image heavy!
As a follow-up to my previous post on boys’ love games, I thought I’d dedicate this post to one of my favorite game genres: otome games! One of the most famous Japanese otome games, Hakuoki, is getting an English localization, and will be released in the US for the PSP sometime during quarter one 2012, so there’s never been a better time to get into the genre! For someone who never thought otome games would ever get translated, this is awesome news.
So, what are otome games? Broadly, otome games are romance, or dating, simulation games that cater towards a female audience. In these games, you control the actions of the main character, who is always female, as she navigates through the game’s narrative, making decisions along the way that will ultimately decide which male suitor she will end up with at the end of the game. If you read my BL article, the gameplay in most otome games is often very similar, but the relationships that form the plot are heterosexual, rather than homosexual.
While many otome games tend towards the visual novel side of things, with lots of text and few options to change the course of the narrative, some have more simulation elements, such as stat raising. The Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side games excel in that they provide more engagement than their visual novel counterparts, which is why I own not one but two of them for the DS. They also have a unique feature called “skinship” where you utilize the touch screen to interact with the various male characters–different types of touches in different locations (get your mind out of the gutter, this game is PG!) will elicit various reactions depending on the guy’s personality, which can be quite a bit of fun.
While unfortunately BL games seem to be neglected when it comes to English releases, otome games are slowly gaining ground. Besides the wonderful news that an official Japanese otome game will be getting a localization, there are a few independently-developed indie English otome games. One such game is called X-Note, and you can even try a demo of it on the site to get a feel of what to expect with otome games in general. It notably lacks voice acting, which provides much of the charm of the male suitors in Japanse otome games, but otherwise it seems like a very solid game with nice artwork, and at the very fine price point of only $15, anyone who has an interest in otome games should definitely consider checking it out. What’s even more impressive is that the game was created by a team of only two people! Wow!
There’s a Japanese otome game available for the iPad and iPhone as well, and it includes not only an English translation but the ability to switch between the two. This one’s only $3.99, but unfortunately I don’t have a device that can play it, so I can’t give it a try. If anyone does check it out, let me know what you think!
I could go on and on, but I think I’ll have to leave things here for now. Atelier Rorona, my new gaming obsession, is calling me! If you have anything in particular you’d like to know about otome or BL games that you’d like me to cover in a future post, let me know in the comments!