Halloween treats, Dragon Quest style!

Luida’s Bar has been around for a few years now, an official themed Dragon Quest eatery in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. A million miles away from the various Mario/Pac Man tins filled with generic mints that pass for video game food over here, this place has an excellent menu of quality food based on or disguised as Dragon Quest (and Final Fantasy) meals, all presented with meticulous attention to detail.

They even do holiday specials! Take a look at the Halloween “Pumpkin head special Mont Blanc”, filled with a thick pumpkin cream -

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If that doesn’t take your fancy here are a few treats from the current menu -

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“Dragon’s right arm ham” and “Mysterious nut combination platter” – including luck seeds (cashews) and stamina seeds (almonds)

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“Golden slime demi omelette” and “Yangus’ bandit-style pork grill”

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Drinks aren’t ignored either, with a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic themed beverages on offer, including “elf medicine” (left) and “street corner beer” (right).

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Personally speaking I’d really have to try the pork skewers and “elf medicine” – if only to see that wonderful flask! How about you?

You can view the full mouth-watering selection of meals on the official LUIDA’S BAR website here - link

(Another bonus is that this post knocks that freaky screenshot from WhiteDay off the top of my blog, so I’ll sleep a little easier tonight!)

Spooky time! WhiteDay: A labyrinth named school

So, the original intent after finishing this Korean horror game was to get a nice tidy database entry up and call it done, but I can’t do that because first of all I must impress on everyone that if you’re going to play just one creepy game this year, it really has to be WhiteDay.

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You play as Hui-Min, a Korean schoolboy sneaking into his new school in the evening to leave some chocolates for the girl he likes (“White Day” itself basically being Asian Valentine’s Day) to discover the next day. The slight problem being that his school’s full of spirits, cursed souls and caretakers with a distinctly murderous streak.

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What makes the game exceptional is the palpable sense of dread and fear that the game keeps up right until the credits roll. There’s actually not a lot of enemies in total, but the ones that are there are very dangerous and will not stop until you’re dead. The caretakers in particular are a great example of this, possessing a natural field of vision that will span the whole room and they won’t stop searching the instant you’re out of view or because you shut a door on them. Crouching in the dark behind some lockers and hoping the sound of the keys jangling on their waist will fade away into the distance isn’t an experience I’m going to forget and it’s not one any gamer should miss out on.

The absolute best thing though is that for once I have a little good news to finish off with – there’s a working and pretty much 99% complete English translation patch available, meaning you don’t need to read Korean to appreciate this fantastic game. Grab that patch from the lovely people here - http://www.unnamedstudios.net/p/whiteday.html You’ll still need to source the game yourself mind, but WhiteDay is well worth the effort – enjoy, and make sure you share your experiences of the game with me!

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Japanese arcade top ten: 22nd Sept~5th Oct 2013

I thought it’d be nice to have a little look at last week’s Japanese arcade top ten, as reported by Famitsu. Now this data’s pulled from just twenty arcades spread around Japan, but it at least gives us some idea of what’s popular at the moment.

The Tekken and Taiko no Tatsujin cabinet shots aren’t exactly the right releases, but they’re close enough to give everyone the general idea. Click on the Japanese names to be taken directly to the official Japanese website!

10:World Club Champion Football Inter-continental Clubs 2011-2012 (Sega)

 ワールドクラブ チャンピオンフットボール インターコンチネンタルクラブス 2011-2012

Sega’s long-running card based football game.

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9: Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Unlimited (Bandai-Namco)

 鉄拳タッグトーナメント2 アンリミテッド

Tekken Tag 2 with knobs on.

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8: Sega Network Taisen Mahjong MJ5 (Sega)

セガネットワーク対戦麻雀 MJ5

Arcade mahjong so hardcore it’s been approved by the Nihon Pro Mahjong Association!

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7: Taiko no Tatsujn (March 2013 version)

 太鼓の達人(2013年3月バージョン)

New tracks include a Pokemon gym medley and a Hatsune Miku collaboration.

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6: Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 4

湾岸ミッドナイト MAXIMUM TUNE4

Based on the manga of the same name with music by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro. Wangan Midnight 5 loketests start on the 19th of October!

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5: Sengoku Taisen -1590 Aoi Kanbasshyu ni Tatsu- (Sega)

 戦国大戦 -1590 葵 関八州に起つ-

Not content with cornering the market of Sangokushi-era arcade games, Sega have in the past few years moved on from Chinese themed warfare to similar-but-different Japanese versions of their apparently evergreen arcade card game.

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4: Border Break Union Ver.3.0A (Sega)

 ボーダーブレイク ユニオン Ver.3.0A

I gave Border Break a good going over here, so I’ll just say that this is a game I’m aching to play but probably never will.

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3: Kidou Senshi Gundam Extreme Versus Full Boost (Bandai-Namco)

 機動戦士ガンダム エクストリームバーサス フルブースト

2vs2 Gundam arena battles featuring a ridiculous amount of Gundam from twenty seven different series.

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2: Lord of Vermilion III (Square-Enix)

 ロード オブ ヴァーミリオンIII

Square Enix continue their surprising but not unpleasant success in Japanese arcades with the latest Lord of Vermilion game. If you want more info I wrote a little bit about the game here back when it was on loketest.

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1: Kidou Senshi Gundam Senjou no Kizuna (Bandai-Namco)

 機動戦士ガンダム 戦場の絆

This is a 4vs4 Gundam game with an immersive 180° dome shaped screen that looks fantastic but would without question give me motion sickness before I’d even sat down.

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While there’s a definite trend for card-based games and Gundam (business as usual really) I think just looking at the games on this list arcades are really back in their stride in Japan -  gamers are getting a unique experience that they can’t get on consoles or PC and thanks to physical collectable cards and dedicated mobile websites they can even take something of that away with them and tinker with outside the arcade too.

Monkey business! A little look at Saru Yama Tengoku

I thought it was about time I took another look at the treasure I downloaded from Project EGG a while ago so I opened up the program, shut my eyes, wiggled the mouse around a bit and found myself picking out this wonderfully strange PC-98 non-game.

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Non-game?  The reason I say that is because there’s really nothing more to this than throwing the small assortment of random pieces of food that appear on the old lady’s table into the monkey enclosure and watching how the monkeys react to each other and the environment. This monkey-bothering is broken up every now and then by an unexpected Darius tribute, swiftly followed by your monkeys itching themselves silly during an insect swarm.

It sounds like nothing more than a bit of fluff, and that’s because it is – Saru Yama Tengoku was just one of the eclectic mix of titles bundled together for Discstation 98 #5, released in 1991.

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The last thing you’d expect is a sequel isn’t it? Well you’d be wrong! Discstation #14 (Windows PC) saw the probably not much awaited Saru Yama Tengoku 2, with five monkeys instead of the original’s three, adorable schoolchildren, day/night and season cycles and massively expanded items and events. Strictly speaking it’s still not a game as your interaction is limited again to just throwing things in for them to play with, but with this now including Walkmans (the tape variety), hockey masks and hula-hoops you’re unlikely to find yourself caring about the lack of direct intervention.

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I’d actually really like to see these expressive little chaps make a comeback – watching them fight over fruit, go for a swim and even make Back to the Future references (one event involves a monkey “time travelling” by building up speed and then leaving a fiery trail as he streaks across the enclosure) is a very enjoyable way to pass the time when your brain’s too fried for “real” games and it had both me and my son giggling away more often than people probably should at pixelled monkeys!

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Upcoming Sega arcade game: The World of Three Kingdoms

So it would appear that Sega have some sort of intermittent direct feed into my dreams, because an arcade game set in the Sangokushi era of Chinese history with epic scale battles is most definitely on my imaginary “games I’d like to make” wish list (I guess Sega’s dream-reader got cut off before the “release this outside Japan part”).

The World of Three Kingdoms is currently only available to play on location tests, the next one starting tomorrow (4th of October) in Akibahara’s Club Sega and at Yokohama Station’s Round1.

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The game’s a real time action game where you lead a large troop of warriors against rival forces (player and CPU controlled by the looks of things). The cabinet itself has three buttons (attack, archers and special) with a lever for movement, and the screen’s touch-enabled so you can directly jab the skill/formation icons located along the bottom to execute certain moves or reorder your forces.

There seems to be four basic troop types – cavalry and foot soldiers, with both having a “heavy” version in extra armour. Each class comes with its own special ability; for example the lighter soldiers enable the troops to navigate steep terrain, while the heavy variant can set up a frontal defense against oncoming enemies.

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Before you do all this though you need to first create your soon-to-be legendary general! It looks like there’s a fair few customisation options, with more clothing an armour opening up as you play. Armour offers stat boosts as well as making you look cool, and these pieces and be upgraded instead of just being thrown out between battles once the next piece of shiny loot drops. Player data is saved onto the now-ubiquitous IC card, although with the game essentially being in beta testing Sega don’t guarantee it’s currently stable and loketest characters won’t be carried over to the final game.

Official website’s here - http://3kingdoms.sega.jp/index.html

Postcards from Crossbell City

So I finished Zero no Kiseki this morning, and it was… well, more than a bit good. OK, I got a bit teary sobbed like a small child at the ending. It was brilliant, and I’m a fool for leaving it this long.

Anyway! What I really wanted to share about my Zero experience were the various beautiful locations found in and around Crossbell City, some of which you can see below (Chinese PC release screenshots). From a technical point of view there’s not all that much going on, especially by today’s standards – it’s all a bit low-poly with lots of “cheat” light effects and 2D sprite details - but the designs are so interesting and well done that it doesn’t matter in the slightest and it’s a real show of the obvious talent’s of Falcom’s art and design team.

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Before I started I was more than a bit concerned about how visually interesting a game set largely within a single city be, but as the scenes below hopefully show there’s a real diversity in the various districts and streets here. Not only that but there’s a feeling that the city could really work and not everything’s there just for the sake of the plot or player convenience.

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Oh and this photo down here? It was just too lovely to leave out!

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