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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 3-31-10: The State of Texas vs Sakura Wars

Posted by nfinit on March 30, 2010

I’m not going to lie to you, this is a bad week for console gaming.  There’s a bare handful of game releases this week, and almost all of them have three things in common– they all target a very specific niche, they’re all Japanese as fuck, and they’re all of dubious quality at best.  The next couple weeks are slow, with no games really qualifying as a must buy, which is a kindness to your wallet considering the savage beating it’s taken in the past three weeks.

It’s been an equally slow stretch for gaming news, with sadly little to report coming out of Pax East, save for the usual stories of highly regrettable cosplay and staggeringly awful personal hygiene.  However, it’s been 48 hours since the end of the event and it would appear that no new virulent diseases have spread forth from the Northeastern Corridor, so at least Pax East can be said to be more successful than Pax ’09.  You can credit this to Gabe and Tycho’s shrewd choice of event hubs for the inaugural Pax East– five hundred Bostonians die of the Bubonic Plague every week; something as trivial as an outbreak of Swine Flu would be seen as a welcome respite for the beleaguered populace.

But as bad a week this was for gaming, last week was a far worse week for the subject of History, as the Texas School Board has decided to wipe Thomas Jefferson, McCarthyism and Hip Hop from the annals of American history and replace them with the wit and wisdom of CSA President Jefferson Davis, open advocacy for the National Rifle Association and the validity of the Verona Papers.

Which leads us to this week’s hastily cobbled together theme: Let’s take two awful things and combine them by asking this question:  What is the likelihood of each of this week’s game being redacted by the Texas School Board?  To denote this we will use the hilariously appropriate symbol of Ingsoc, which by the time your reading has possibly also been redacted.

Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat

The more Ingsoc Rating the game has, the higher the chance of redaction!  Let’s begin!


Publisher:  Tecmo

Developer:  Cing

Platforms:  DS

Don’t let Again’s godawful presentation and straight-from-1994 digitized art assets fool you– this game comes from Cing, the fine folks who brought you Hotel Dusk and Trace Memory, and Again looks to carry on the company’s tradition of adventure/detective storytelling on the DS.  It’s just a shame that Cing dropped Hotel Dusk’s distinctive art style for a rather blatant ploy to attract western audiences and/or fool people into thinking they were playing Heavy Rain DS

ScreenShot Image

Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Despite hailing from a combination of Cing and Tecmo, Again is somehow the most American game of the bunch, and thus may escape being expunged from the pages of history.  However, Again’s puzzles are presented via a “past vision” mechanic, which allows the player to see the crime scene as it existed in the past– this may too closely resemble the abomination of magic for the Texas School Board’s liking.

Dead or Alive Paradise

Publisher:  Tecmo

Developer:  Team Ninja

Platform:  Playstation Portable

Team Ninja would like to reassure anyone who feared that Tomonobu Itagaki’s departure meant that the series may have become respectable and/or credible.

Dead or Alive Pardise takes the DoA/DoA Xtreme formula of Girls, Fighting and Volleyball, strips away the “Fighting” and “Volleyball” and leaves us with the DoA girls in a softcore hentai casino game.

If that’s not quite skeevy enough for you– and keep in mind here, we’re dealing with what’s quite literally a scaled up cell-phone game— DoA Paradise ups the creep factor with a camera minigame with which you assemble a sad, depressing photo album proving testament to your inability to form intimate relationships with analog women. But that’s okay, because DoA Paradise includes a dating minigame who’s payoff is a striptease by the chick you’re currently courting giving random gifts to so she’ll let you take pictures of her in her underwear.  That you then put in your album.

I feel like at this point that I should point out that nothing I’ve said in this entry is satire or parody.  What I’ve described is quite literally the entire game.  You play casino games, buy swimsuits for the girls, and then take pictures of them in these swimsuits.  Then at some point random point they decide you’ve spent enough money and let you take openly sexualized pictures instead. That’s it!  That’s the game!  Even the ESRB tried to classify this game as “Creepy Voyeurism”.  I’m not kidding!  That was the quote!

Which hey, if that floats your boat, great.  Whatever.  All I’m saying is that there are easier ways to get real, actual hentai onto your PSP, and none of these methods involve driving out-of-town to a Best Buy using cash to buy this game so there’s no record of the transaction and no one you know will see you doing so. Not that there was a chance of anyone ever spending money on this because it’s a PSP game and PSP games are effectively free provided you didn’t screw up and buy a PSP Go, but still.


Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat

In case I didn’t make myself clear, this game is basically porn, to the point where it’s difficult enough to justify the game’s existence to socially Laissez-faire

liberal types, much less try to explain Itagaki’s relationship with  Hitomi with the Texas School Board without being forcibly removed from the Lone Star State and barred from coming within 100 yards of the American border.

Mimana:  Ilyar Chronicle

Publisher:  Aksys

Developer:  GungHo Works

Platforms:  Playstation Portable

One of the sure signs of a PlayStation console in its death throes is when all the major titles released for it are outstandingly well-drawn Japanese role-playing games.  This is largely due to the fact that these games take forever to get translated and brought over to America, but in the final days of the PS1 this also lead to astoundingly short print runs, resulting in more people owning Valkyrie Profile as a collector’s item than as a videogame.

Sadly this won’t happen to the PSP– mainly because there’s essentially an infinite number of any PSP in existence, because, as I mentioned before, no one actually pays money for PSP games– But it does make for some damned pretty screenshots.

God, I love sprites.

As far as this game goes, it looks to be a combination of modern real-time combat with SNES/PS1-era dungeon crawling and art and pure old school experience point grinding,  befitting a game from the people who gave us Lunar and the first Tales Of games.


Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat

It is unclear if the members of the Texas School Board are aware of the existence of Japanese Role Playing Games, but it’s likely that they’d be suspicious, especially after hearing that most JRPG plots revolve around killing one or more gods.  However they may be willing to accept this based on the fact that most JRPGs involve killing pagan gods.   As long as no one tells the Board about the plot behind Xenogears we should be in good shape.

Sakura Wars:  So Long My Love

Publisher: NIS America

Developer:  Sega

Platforms:  Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii

Our country has somehow managed to withstand three separate presidential administrations, numerous congressional handovers, the entire arc of Duke Nuken 3D to Duke Nukem Forever, the combined life cycles of the Game Boy Pocket/Color/Advance and the entire corporate history of Google without once being subject to a Sakura Wars game.  Keep in mind that Sega did this while at the same time missing at least three separate Strat-based JRPG revivals (Final Fantasy Tactics for the PS1, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for the GBA, Disgaea for the PS2) and any relevance that the Persona series may have lent to the JRPG/Dating Sim subgenre.  Meanwhile we’re dealing with the same game company that somehow thought there was money to be had in translating Panzer Dragoon Saga.

That said, if you’re going to bring one Sakura Wars game to America, you may as well bring over the one that combines 1920’s NYC, giant robots and a massively time-displaced Annie Oakley.

Reviews would seem to indicate that this Sakura Wars installment is heavy on the date-sim aspects and anime cutscenes but light on strategy RPG elements — I don’t know if that’s unique to Goodbye My Love itself or holds true to the series as a whole, but this also seems like the sort of game that if you were going to buy it then you weren’t really going to go out of the way to find review scores anyway.


Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Sure, Sakura Wars might be the most blatantly Japanese thing on this list, but it features two things the Texas School Board ought to absolutely love.  One:  Motherfucking Annie Oakley!  and 2: Going back in time to an era of more regressive social standards.  After all, if you set the clock back to 1920 it’s much easier to get rid of the Age of Enlightenment, the theory of evolution, women’s suffrage and Brown vs the Board of Education.

Samurai Shodown Sen

Publisher:  XSeed

Developer:  K2 LLC

Platforms:  Xbox 360

I have a pretty simple rule for Samurai Showdown games, and it’s this:

1: Does this game have Charlotte?

2: If not, this game can go to hell

Unfortunately Samurai Shodown Sen passes this first test while failing a second, arguably more important metric:  it kinda sucks as a videogame.  There are not a lot of impressions about SEN out on the interwebs at the moment, but none I have seen have been favorable and it was apparently savaged by Famitsu when it was released as Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny nearly two years ago.

It doesn’t help that the fighting game genre is enjoying a Street Fighter IV-fueled revival at the moment and the thing looks like it’s running on WiiWare:

8321L.jpg picture by bigredcoat


Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat

With most of the other titles on this list being largely fantasy affairs it’s fairly easy to disguise the country of origin.  However with Samurai Shodown Sen being set in Feudal Japan, it’s be nearly impossible to hide the fact that this game hails from the land of the slanty-eyed bastards who ambushed Pearl Harbor.

Wario Ware DIY

Publisher:  Nintendo

Developer:  Intelligent Systems

Platform:  Nintendo DS

The series that did minigames  before minigames were cool ruined our hobby forever returns with something of a do-it-yourself Wario Ware toolkit.

People looking for a new fully-featured Wario Ware game will probably come away disappointed, but everything else about DIY looks insanely cool, particularly if you’re in any way interested in game design.  Basically you can take apart all the individual assets of any Wario Ware game present in this package– including a whole slew of assets available via the separate Wario Ware Showcase download via WiiWare– and use them to build new touchpad-based Wario Ware minigames.  You can even create your own art assets if you so wish and share with your friends online– sadly, in typical Nintendo fashion they’re not nearly hip enough to simply let you upload these creations for all DS users to view via, but you will be able to get your stuff up for download on WiiWare via weekly contests.

The interface seems easy enough to work with, and the IGN reviewer mentioned that the game’s tutorial had him making his own games in under an hour.  Also with DIY  you’re spending  a mere forty bucks for a game development tool at least as advanced as whatever Destineer is using to create their own crimes against the gaming public.

But what has me most intrigued is Nintendo’s challenge-a-week contest, where every week a new gameplay challenge is issued and the top 30 or so are released for download via WiiWare, and I have a couple of ideas:

The Is it Real or is it Hudsonsoft Challenge:  Wherin Nintendo would take to random snippits of Hudsonsoft’s vast, horrific DS library and mixes them randomly with user creations from DIY.  Winners are determined by how many people you can fool into thinking you’ve made a game developed and published by a respected developer.  First prize wins a coupon for a free Thanksgiving turkey, second prize wins a coupon for a free Thanksgiving turkey and a copy of Deca Sports DS.

The Avoid Signing a Terrible Contract with Tyrone Rodriguez of Nicalis Games Challenge: This challenge sees the prospective Nintendo indie developer post a link to their finished DIY game at the tigsource forums– If you can avoid foolishly signing soul crushing and property-destroying contract from Tyrone Rodriguez under the guise that his company is competent and professional, you win! Extra points will be awarded if you can somehow get your finished product on WiiWare within four years.

The Nintendo’s New DS Revision Makes My WiiWare Games Incompatible For No Well Defined Reason Challenge:  Nintendo’s just released the DSi XL and now you have to explain to your fans that they have to buy your DSiWare games all over again because Nintendo didn’t think to make game ownership portable across all DSi systems!  Fortunately this is by far the easiest challenge to complete as no one bothers downloading DSiWare games.

Ingsoc.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Texas School Board ought to love DIY–It expounds a by-your-bootstraps ideology that eschews big government meddling and emphasizes a rugged individualistic mentality and all sorts of other authentic frontier gibberish.  Also Wario’s love of cash money simply cannot be understated:

wario5.jpg picture by bigredcoat

What I’m saying here is that DIY is a Republican videogame.


I’m not sure if anything is actually released next week aside from an expansion disc for Borderlands that I’m not sure qualifies as it’s not an actual stand-alone game.  We’ll figure something out.


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