News: Space monsters hit Korea too

I stole the Marionation explanation from Fabien too, but shh.And finally, speaking of Ruliweb, the Korean website also featured some screenshots of the Korean version of Simple2000 Series Vol.81: The Chikyuu Boueigun 2. It will be published by Amusement Korea. Since we are mentioning a Sandlot game, you might wonder what the MG means in the title of their latest project. “MG” means “Marionation Gear”. “Marionation” is a portmanteau for marionette animation and a reference to AP Films’ supermarionation puppetry technique, used for series such as The Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. Now you know!

News: Namco oddities

Nice fanart. I heard the original charadesigner behind The Idolm@ster's girls was the same guy behind the Lunar series. He also worked on Gunbuster, apparently.Speaking of Namco fanboys, here are a few Namco-related curious tidbits. Ruliweb has pictures of the flashy advertisement campaign held by SCEK for the Korean release of Tekken: Dark Resurrection on PSP. Namco is quite active on Sony’s handheld, and most of you certainly know that Ace Combat X and Ridge Racers 2 are on their way. There’s not much to say about the new Ridge, into which Namco seems to have put minimal effort, but audiophiles can check what has been added in the soundtrack: more popular tunes from Type 4 and Rave, as well as Sanodg’s remix version of paris which could be heard in the arranged soundtrack album Ridge Racer V Official Bootleg.

Ace Combat X seems much more convincing, and ITMedia has quite a big preview feature on the game where, we learn that Studio 4°C is producing the cutscenes. Now here is a weird anecdote: check this image. It depicts a fictional newspaper, La Société – based on the real world French newspaper Le Monde. Even the headline is in French. In fact, if you get a closer look at the snapshot, the whole article is in French (pic provided by Fabien again). The first line says: The Villepin Administration forced to face multiple difficulties simultaneously. The article even proceeds with Jacques Chirac as the subject of the opening sentence! We understood the current French Government wasn’t exactly the one French people could be the most proud of, but little did we know they would end up being implicated in a large scale fictional war marred by loading times.

Meanwhile, Namco rides on the success of The Idolm@ster. After the surprising announcement of an upcoming adaptation on Xbox 360, Namco unveiled their plans for an anime version called Idolm@ster Xenoglossia. One would have thought the Xenosaga debacle would have turned Namco a bit cold about using the Xeno- prefix… And as Iggy noticed, we are only one step away from going full circle and witnessing a live version with real idols impersonating virtual idols.

The Idolm@ster also received a dedicated doujin game at Comiket 70 (I mentioned it in the big doujin post). AiMasu Champ! features the young idols in a fast paced mini-game compilation in the vein of Made in Wario and Rythm Tengoku (a fantastic game recently released on GBA). There is a free online trial version available.

News: Mak Japan’s summer

Yes, we sometimes do advertisement for other people than Play Asia.
Speaking of Mak (I am not proud of that one), the Akihabara-based Namco-fanboyish arcade dealer Mak Japan has a massive summer sale organized from this weekend until the next one. In case you always dreamt to have an original arcade board of Bubble Bobble

Brandon’s note: The store itself is quite nice, piled high with greying PCB and twitchy staffers who’d rather you made your purchase quietly, thanks very much. Curiously I found a very rare pre-FF Squaresoft game for the Towns Marty there, if I’m not mistaken, though that’s not the drive of the store, of course.

News: Façade for Mac

If I had my french keyboard with me, it wouldn't be such a pain in the ass to type the 'ç' in Façade...
Speaking of interactive fiction, GrandTextAuto reports that the experimental project Façade is now available for those pesky Mac users as well! It seems the current build needs a pretty powerful machine, so check the specs before downloading. Once this is done, you can go here for the completely legal torrent file. We briefly mentioned the game when it came out on PC. Apparently you should thank Ryan C.Gordon for porting the game to Mac.

News: Super Doujin Géant

This is the greatest done-in-three-minutes-in-between-five-other-very-urgent-works photoshop ever. Thanks you FV.Speaking of Comiket, you might have understood by now that the 2006 summer edition of the popular doujin convention is organized this weekend (if you don’t know what Comiket is, Wikipedia provides a brief explanation). With only one weekend available per year to post on ic (Brandon’s note: ;_;), I don’t really have the time to cover it extensively, but one can hope people like Zepy will not miss the occasion to explain what Moetan Listening CD Vol.2 is all about. After all, it’s been exactly one year since the last update on Canned Dogs! Still, there are a few things to say about doujin games as we haven’t covered the topic in a while.

The doujin game scene is mostly fueled with shooting games, fighting games, and fiction such as visual novels and kinetic novels (remember?). That last part is the least accessible to foreigners because of the language barrier, and as a result some people have expressed interest in translating Japanese interactive fictons and even producing one’s own. Blade Engine, recently mentioned on the ic forums, is a free visual novel construction kit aimed at people who are afraid to deal with complex code and want something as simple as RPG Maker. There are some demo games available along with dedicated tutorials to explain a few basics, and overall it seems like a good first approach in order to understand some simple mechanics of Visual Novels. If your goal is to write the Next Great Visual Novel, Blade Engine is not really recommended, though. I’ve heard quite a few complains from people more experienced on the subject than me. There is no visual editor for your script nor management of layers and layer effects, the animation engine is miserable and it is impossible to protect your sources. “Basically it’s only slightly better than Powerpoint“, I even heard. But hey, it’s free! So there is nothing to lose in giving it a try. If you are just a tad more experienced, it seems the better solution to get into the production of a decent visual novel would be ONScripter, the open-source version of NScripter, which ultrapopular games such as Tsukihime were running on. Speaking of which…

The doujin market is getting more and more important in Japan and, as a logical consequence, a few circles went professional and a few games crossed the frontier between doujin and regular circulation. Take the case of Melty Blood for example. This doujin fighting game based on the universe of Tsukihime has grown so popular it got an Arcade version running on Naomi, Melty Blood -Act Cadenza-, which itself received a port on PS2 released last week. First echoes from the always informative Shinobi reveal that the PS2 version has already sold most of its stock; overall an impressive success story for Type Moon and French-Bread.

Most of the important doujin games are of course released this weekend for Comiket 70, and I invite you to investigate on Tasogare Frontier’s Higurashi DayBreak (based on the highly popular horror series Higurashi), Blood -Over-, Record of Rozen War Alibat, Hinokakera (version 2.01 released for C70, trial & video available), Acceleration of Suguri (sequel to the popular Suguri), AiMasu Champ! (more on that one here), the demo of Chantelise+ (by the makers of Gunners Heart) and a new patch for Subtle Style’s jawdropping fighting game Akatsuki Denkou Senki. And to stay on the subject of homebrew games, check this interesting discussion and that interview.

The awesomifique photoshop-work illustrating this post is by Fabien.

News: Game Music @ C70

That's a pretty nifty cover.Speaking of RetroPC, the website also linked to some music albums that are available this weekend at Comiket 70. The Circle Woodsoft is releasing RetroPC! Game Ookoku, a compilation of popular Japanese PC game tunes (Ys, XakIII, Hydlide 3…) arranged by various local musicians. You can get a sample here. Also available at Comiket 70, Firecracker’s FC88V35 (standing for “Firecracker PC-88 Music Collection vol.35″) takes the opposite approach as it offers original music composed by the Circle for Nec’s PC-88 computers. As a very nice extra feature, the CD also contains a PC-88 emulator and original content for your PC-88 (or the emulator given with the CD, if you don’t have a PC-88 at home).

News: 1 Chip MSX @ C70

This SD Card slot is probably the smartest feature of the 1 Chip MSX.Speaking of EGG, its owners D4 Enterprise were showing their much anticipated 1 Chip MSX at Comiket 70. RetroPC has some pictures of their stand. In the same fashion as these numerous Famicom clones that were spawned around the 20th anniversary of the system, the 1 Chip MSX makes it much easier to play your old MSX cartridges instead of leaving them in the dust and favoring emulation. At 20,000 yen a piece, the system is quite expensive but it comes with direct RCA output, a PS/2 port for Windows keyboards, a SD Card slot and USB connections. You can check all the specs and features on their website (in Japanese); I think it’s a good deal.

News: J.B. Harold returns!

Cellphone games are getting more and more interesting in Japan.Speaking of detective games, another huge surprise was the announcement of a new episode in the J.B. Harold series. With Tantei Saburou and Famicom Detective, J.B. Harold might just be the most popular series of pornfree detective adventure games in Japan. The most famous episode is quite certainly the first one, Murder Club (or Satsujin Club), notable for its brillant PC Engine CD-ROM² conversion, and you might also have heard of Blue Chicago Blues and Manhattan Requiem. These two games had enhanced Laser Disc versions for PC Engine LD-ROM² (hence to be played on the LaserActive), but Blue Chicago Blues was also available on pretty much all the big Japanese CD-based systems of its time.

Now, for the bad news: this new episode titled J.B. Harold Series: Seattle Purple Haze is only available on Japanese cellphones. Althi owns most of the Riverhill Soft licenses and the series is now part of its Mystery Selection i catalog, where the ports of the existing J.B. Harold games have apparently proved profitable enough to deserve the effort of producing a brand new episode for the mobile crowd. Despites being a new episode, it seems this version runs on a mobile version of EGG, the popular and licensed Japanese PC emulation service for Windows. Provided you have a FOMA-compatible cellphone, you can already get J.B. Harold Series: Seattle Purple Haze here for 525 yen.

News: Meitantei Evangelion

Will the milking of evadorks ever stop? ...Unlikely.Speaking of feeding a niche, one of the most surprising news pieces of last week was the announcement of a detective game based on Evangelion. Produced by Broccoli, who rarely misses an occasion to milk a license dry, Meitantei Evangelion is apparently a mystery-adventure filled with mini games in the messed-up world of Gainax‘s highly popular robot series. Puzzling! Anyway, according to specialists in the matter, this project is not the mysterious Secret of Evangelion already announced for PS2, as we already know GeneX is producing that one – not Broccoli. Twice as puzzling!