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Pepsiman

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#1  Edited By Pepsiman

@dudeglove said:

@pepsiman: Forgive my ignorance, but what is the general mood surrounding the economy in Japan currently? Inflation? Stagnation? I know Japan has pulled out of a few automotive deals in Russia due to instabilities here (and probably won't be back for another 2 years until things calm down), but part of me wonders due to the stereotypical risk-averse nature of Japanese business is whether that's them downsizing things on the international front in order to shore up things domestically rather than fear of volatile foreign markets.

I'll preface all of this by saying first that I haven't lived in Japan for a few years. I work for Japanese publishers as a translator, but from my home here in the States, at least for the time being. So I'm not necessarily the most directly in-touch with how some things have been since I left.

My understanding is that Japan still more or less remains in the recession economy it's been stuck in since the 80s bubble burst. There have been attempts in recent years to revitalize the economy in various ways (Google "Abenomics," named after the current prime minister Shinzo Abe for a primer) that, too my understanding, have more or less flopped and basically contributed to the pretty severe devaluing of the yen against a lot of currencies. (I believe for the US dollar, it hovers at around 120 yen for $1.) Knowing that, I would largely agree with your assessment that more than anything, Konami's withdrawal from traditional games is probably spurred in large part to seeing its future within certain successful ventures it has within its own borders, especially with respect to gambling. It's not to say that they don't have international aspirations for other parts of the company (apparently even their gambling sector wants to break into Las Vegas), but they're definitely trending more insular in recent years. I would say that you can't discount traditional Japanese business bullishness altogether, but in Konami's instance when looking at the greater picture, you're probably right that it's not the biggest factor going on here.

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Pepsiman

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Oh hey, my tweets got mentioned on my Internet home, awesome! Thanks!

I think most of what I wrote speaks for itself, but regarding the budget thing specifically: my surprise isn't over some notion that MGSV couldn't have possibly cost that. It's definitely viable given the development length. The surprise comes from my personally understanding of Japanese game budgets; very few companies can even think about committing that much money for a console game and frankly, even with its occasional mobile success, Konami honestly tends to sit on the edge between being able to comfortably do that, even with IPs like MGS. I didn't mention it in the tweets, but the article mentions that their game revenue has dropped 40% in the last ten years, buoyed mainly by what success they have had in mobile. (This money doesn't account that their non-game sectors make, mind.) That they would divert that much towards the game when it still wasn't complete at the time of that figure is a surprise knowing that the margins for financial error for Japanese publishers tends to be pretty slim, let alone for a company with few successful IP to exploit at this stage like Konami. Couple this with differences in salaries between Japanese and Western developers and you have a budget that, sure, isn't unprecedented in modern games in general, but is rare among Japanese companies given the current economic environment. The standard to compare MGSV's budget isn't western games here, but other Japanese games; you're otherwise dealing in apples and oranges.

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Pepsiman

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I am greatly relieved to see I'm not the other person excited to see Frank Cifaldi attached to this endeavor. So glad to see he's gotten into a position to hopefully make a real difference in the industry. I remember reading Lost Levels a decade ago in high school!

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It warms my heart to see the Japanese-specific jokes landing as well as they are. While translating is my bread and butter financially, I'm not a native, so comedic stuff into Japanese isn't something I often do (or feel comfortable doing for that matter.) It was an honor to contribute to this madness in my own small way! c:

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I did some reporting on this game in the lead up to its release (I work as a translator for Gematsu) and from what I saw, I would generally recommend against picking up the game just from a language barrier perspective alone, unless, of course, that's no problem. Combat might be real time, but it looks like it has fairly dense menus to decipher and narrative progression seemed at least partially dependent on being able to read the dialog. Could be wrong and I'm sure there are FAQs that are being written to address those points, but still.

That being said, I did some digging around in Japanese user reviews since you can't really trust most mainstream publications and the reception is pretty divided. From what I gather, the combat mechanics are pretty solidly developed, but the game seemingly ends a bit suddenly and is apparently somewhat rife with mobile-style DLC hooks (pay $1 to restart a battle rather than go back to the title screen!). It doesn't otherwise sound like an inherently broken game or anything —the DLC issues wig me out, but I'm still interested in playing it— so, even if it's problematic, $20 could be a solid deal, especially for a new Japanese release.

Hope this helps a little! If you want me to dig around a little more for anything specific, I can try. :)

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Pepsiman

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Personally, I'd say if you don't have that history with Nintendo's long-running franchises that you might actually be better off checking out some of their completely fresh stuff from the last decade or so. There's still a certain philosophical lineage to their non-Mario and Zelda stuff, but I think they're a really solid way of acquainting with the sort of abstract trademarks people have come to really appreciate about their games. To that end, my picks:

  • The Rhythm Heaven games. There are three of them, one for the GBA, DS, and Wii each. The latter two are the only ones that got localized, although the general consensus is that the GBA and Wii ones are the essential ones. If you don't feel like dealing with Japanese menus (though it's a really non-Japanese speaker friendly game!), then definitely pick up the Wii one, especially since it doesn't have any motion controls, in case those turn you off.
  • The WarioWare series. There's some shared ideas and people behind these games and Rhythm Heaven, but they're different enough beasts that they can be more or less enjoyed as separate and distinct things. Two GBA games, two DS games, a Wii game, and I think some weird 3DS spinoff stuff that everybody's forgotten about mostly. Both of the GBA games, which are the original WarioWare and WarioWare: Twisted (which has motion controls in that you tilt the system side to side), and the Wii one, Smooth Moves are very widely regarded to be really original, unique playing games because of their tone, controls, and swiftness for each "microgame" you play. Personally, I love Twisted the best.
  • The Pushmo series. Haven't actually played any of these, but these are basically downloadable platform puzzlers where you have to pull out chunks of three-dimensional pictures in such a way that you can make it to the finish line. Apparently gets fiendish fast. Two 3DS entries and a Wii U one, all beloved to my knowledge.
  • The Pikmin games. Basically console RTS games with controls done right masquerading as action adventure games. Two GameCube installments, both with solid Wii ports, and a Wii U game. The first two games on the GameCube, I believe, are the most highly regarded, but the Wii U game hardly got bad reception, either. If you only have to go for one of them, pick up either version of 2, though I'm of the opinion that 1 is an equally excellent game, albeit for different and, more controversial reasons that ultimately make it the less accessible game.

I think also playing some of the more unusual spinoffs in Nintendo's more venerable lines is a good way of familiarizing yourself with the design philosophies people love without having to dive way back into their main catalog. On that front, I'd suggest:

  • Picross 3D. Fantastic DS puzzler where you carve out pictures in a three-dimensional space based on interpreting numbers and shapes on each block. Takes a good while for the difficulty to really rev up, but if you're known to enjoy puzzle games to any degree, you'll likely find yourself falling for this one hard.
  • The first two Paper Mario games. Neat, accessible RPGs for the N64 and GameCube that are simple and free of pretentious mechanical clutter without feeling condescending. Also just really charming writing and they feature a still relatively unique battle system that's a hybrid of turn-based with quasi-QTE/real time action segments. Works a lot better than you might think.

I thought I had more games, but it's been a long night, so we'll call it good at that. I know not a lot of 3DS specific suggestions in here (there is a 3DS Paper Mario game, but it's not really all that well liked compared to the others), but there is a good amount of original stuff that Nintendo still produces as either spinoffs or in a one-off capacity that I think can be very easily appreciated without having any history with them. Hope it helps!

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Pepsiman

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Thank you kindly for featuring me on here as always, Pie-san. It always means a lot to have my dumb fan translation endeavors supported on here, even if there are all of like five other Japanese speakers here. :D!

The NicoNico response to Danny's video has been really, really good. Hopefully I'll find time to translate their comments this week because that video did generate some good discussion about violence and censorship in the context of games.

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Pepsiman

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I think the sales are automatically non-recurring, but I may be wrong.

I just renewed mine through the sale tonight and can confirm this is the case, meaning you'll either have to renew it manually in advance when the time comes, at which point it'll revert to automatically resubscribing you annually, or buy additional extensions at sale prices as they come.

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Pepsiman

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#9  Edited By Pepsiman

Lang's Twitter account is here, which is probably the best way to get clarification on stuff like this, but for the record, he retweeted this a while ago, which, if I'm not mistaken, should mean you get your code on here later this week from @epicsteve.

Give it a little time. We rag on Lang here for fun, but when you're a businessman like him, it's especially bad business to do false advertising for charity-related things and large scale gift fulfillment often just takes time in general. I'd say give it until the end of the week and then if you still don't hear anything, go bug those two, but I really doubt it'll come to that. :)

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Pepsiman

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It makes me so happy on a fundamental level that someone is voluntarily writing about Simple 2000 games in English on the Internet. I've meant to embark on a similar journey myself after playing more Dream Club for the PSP than I should have out of let's call an academic curiosity, but to actually see someone, ah, living the dream is quite fantastic.

I had no idea Tamsoft did any of the other games in the series that weren't Onechanbara, so color me a little surprised that they're the ones behind the taxi games, too. What a strange journey that company has been on over the years; I can't say I particularly like what they put out (Dream Club is more a very guilty pleasure for me than anything else because of the premise) and yet I still wanna shoot the shit with those developers at some point and interview them about how they came to be what they are today.

You're doing the Lord's work here, duder. As someone who also likes covering the lesser Japanese games that might not really merit it legitimately, I salute you.