What do you want to see in Our Man in Japan?

As some of you may know, Tom and Mark were gracious enough to let me work on a column with them for the site. I’m not sure whether this is considered rude, considering all the help and guidelines Tom has already given me about the column, so I didn’t ask him permission before I posted this. And he’s already given me excellent advice on what to talk about in the column. So this is not because I lack any kind of great feedback from him. And of course, since he owns the place, to suggest that I would solicit stuff he may not want in the column, though he’s made it pretty clear how nicely flexible he is. :)

But despite all that, I remain a bit stymied about what people would want to read. The biggest hurdle for me is that I literally can’t tell what’s interesting.

Assuming the person reading this wants to know about what goes on in Japan, I open this poll and post to field suggestions.

Actually, I’ve got a second part to the Shin Megami Tensei original article, but I didn’t want to submit it until I spaced it out a bit with something in between, because I don’t want to seem like the RPG column or the Shin Megami Tensei column. That and I did have something interesting on Fire Emblem brewing, but unfortunately it involves snipping quotes from interviews and one of the the websites has been down lately. Then I thought, “Hey, maybe I can make a column out of Paper Mario 2 impressions!” Then I couldn’t get on my hands on the game as soon as I thought, as my friend lended it out to somebody else first. Lovely. Oh and for those who think Dowark’s Revenge is a real game: its a joke. whooosh So that’s why I need suggestions. Er, feel free to suggest other than what I suggest in the poll, yeah.

To expand on the choices in the poll:

In Anaxagoras’s PS2 RPGs thread, it became quite clear between me and Kevin Grey and he, that there’s some terms and ideas and expectations that, all universalities being the same, really skew how Japanese think about evaluating games and a potential reason where the perceived “weirdness” comes from.

Eternal Mana is the sixth game in a well-received RPG series about running an alchemist shop. It seems like if Sony approves, Nippon Ichi wants to make this their first outside project to translate. Its a 2D dripping with rich sprite artwork, but shows its low production values in the fact that the developer isn’t actually rich. More importantly, it kind of pisses me off, because the game is a more conventional RPG than the last five games, which delightfully shrugged off a lot of genre conventions, by focusing more on other systems totally unrelated to battle prowess to create a “role-playing” game. It also brings up a kind of warning I’d like to give gamers.

In the thread about Jaws recently, I made reference to the fact that I don’t think Everblue 2 is much of a diving game persay, as it is a vacation game meant to provide relief over other types of games which are considered to be “overworking” or should I say “overplaying” the public. This whole issue of marketing one game as the treat and the next as the vacation from the treat, I think is a peculiarly Japanese one right now.

The fourth option is because there is a huge amount of stuff that isn’t exactly in need of translation, or a masterpiece, but is nevertheless at least pretty solid that’s pretty interesting over here. Indeed, some of the failures I believe would even raise people’s eyebrows. Basically, if I wrote something about one of these games, you’d be inclined not to believe a game like that actually got made. :P

The fifth is something that really affects how a lot of Western games are viewed in Japan and I think is the largest reason why FPSes have never taken route over here. And why, you see Japanese developers avoiding doing certain things, whenever it comes to a game that be described as military.

The sixth is me picking one of the many unconventional game that really don’t fit in any genre that get released here in droves. And why, to us, it might not look quite as original.

The seventh is Japanese for SHIT! BONERZ! :D

The eighth is following up on what I said in the Shin Megami Tensei article that in some cases, where a game from within Japan, has a lot to do with what’s it like. This is especially the case if you look at how home towns have developed with respect to subcultural bias. Some of you were interested in hearing about this as you said in the other thread.

Thanks for any feedback.


Well, let’s just say that I don’t watch Takashi’s Castle to see great athletes. :D

He, considering the topic conversation in that other thread, maybe I could talk about the games where you fight the forces of poo as they invade and there’s an enemy called Anal Corn who actually dances. But I think might be pushing the limits of taste. ;)

Maybe I’ll talk about that game where play as rebel onion kids who won’t put up with the Big Brother-like rule of the tomatoes, whose leader wants to harvest your girlfriend’s emotions so he can build a tomato mecha and impress people on network TV.


Kitsune, [size=4]please[/size] tell me that was a joke. Please? Even if it’s not?*

Re the column:

Personally, I’d go for cultural issues. That would probably be considered as summing across “gaming criticism”, “military portrayal culture problem”, “those wacky Japanese”, and “home town thought”. I mean, getting gaming knowledge is easy. Getting cultural knowledge is hard but provides the reward of partial insight into why the games are the way they are. All things being equal, if I’m choosing between knowledge that requires flying to Japan and knowledge that requires going to another website, I’d pick the former. :)

*[size=2]Okay, so you shouldn’t actually lie. If such a game actually exists, then feel free to acknowledge it with a simple yes or no, without, however, destroying my breakfast with your answer. Good God, over here it’s 7:30 in the morning! I gotta eat and the nausea and hunger are getting confused![/size]

I’d like to read about the PC gaming scene if it exists in Japan. Surely there must be Japanese PC game developers who don’t just develop interactive soft-porn PC games.

Or do Japanese PC gamers simply play localised versions of foreign games ? What sort of PC game genres are popular in Japan ?

I voted for some game you like that I’ve never heard of, but I would have voted for number seven if I had read your post a bit more closely.

Personally, and I know I’m in the minority here, I’d like to know about the goings on with doujin games/games that will probably never be released here… but like I said I’m in the minority. Plus I get news on that kind of thing from IC already, so it’s cool. I’m going to read your column regardless, so go to town.

Tell me about Moon.

where’s the SHIT, BONERZ! option

oh, wow, it’s in that novella?

I’m with Silverlight. I’d like to read about cultural issues, though not limited to the portrayal of military themes only.

I would really like to read about censorship of all kinds. Censorship in Japan strikes me as being very strange; even a cursory browse through a book-store or magazine stand in Japan will leave many westerners puzzled. What themes and images are not allowed to be portrayed in games and why? What rationale is used? Are there any themes or images which cannot be portrayed in games but can be portrayed in print or video and vice versa?

Are games generally considered to be a children’s pastime or is there also a large adult gaming market (by adult I don’t necessarily mean sexual content)?

What are the differences between titles in the domestic and import markets? Are imports generally more or less popular?

Is online gaming popular? LAN parties? Internet and gaming cafes?

Has anyone come up with a virtual Pachinko game and, if not, why not? Given the popularity of Pachinko, there must be a market for it. What is the deal with Pachinko anyway?

By the way Kitsune, where in Japan do you live? I’ve visited twice and fell in love with the place.

I wish I could have picked multiple options.


I’m interested in the Japanese view of christianity. A lot of games/movies I’ve seen from there have a good bit of talk about angels, or actual church dogma but it’s almost always wacky.

I understand the dominance of Buddhism/Shinto as the reason for the misconceptions and characterizations of christianity, but I’m more interested in what the most common misconceptions are. Any other specifics on the general subject would be spiffy, too.


Also, more articles about Tales of Symphonia :D

I voted for the Military Themes selection but I’m really interested in what Brewers mentioned here.

When I was in Japan I was very surprised at some of the more explicit material that was available for browsing at the newstands and bookstores. Add in the fact that much of the anime television comes off a bit more extreme than a lot of what we get on American television and the high levels of graphic violence in many Japanese films and I’m left wondering what is the difference between American and Japanese standards with regards to mature content.

How about a detailed description of that game you keep telling us we have to buy?

I say write about any and all of those, Kitsune; they’d all interest me. My knowledge about Japanese culture is limited to what I’ve gleaned from Anime, movies, and business meetings.

I’m putting in my vote for those wacky Japanese. I’d really like to know what you think the culteral difference is that makes gaming “cool” in Japan. It’s like Japan is a magic land where people can openly talk about gaming on the street. Here if you’re a gamer you’re either a kid, a nerd, or a psycopath or addict (if you read the mainstream news). Japan seems like a place where people can game out in the open without fear of social consequences.

Gaming themed ringtones for your phone, laws forcing the releace of certain games on weekends, people running around with nintendos and link cables ready to trade pokemon with you. Tell me more about this magic land where you don’t cook your fish but you can game with pride!

All of these are good options, but this one interests me the most. Maybe you should start from the ground up. I’m curious what the gaming culture in Japan is like on the whole. I have heard conflicting statements about Japanese gamers on the difficulty issue, for example. I’ve heard they like their games harder than Western games are known for. I’ve also heard the opposite. So, I’d like to know which it is, and if the gamers of the Rising Sun like to take extra effort to figure out games or do they consult hintbooks or GameFaqs.com to finish games.

I think most/all of us in the USA are already familiar with the trend of microsizing products to maximize space over there (which is a common complaint of the XBox, of course.) What other lifestyle choices come into play?

Just thought I’d throw you a few ideas. Have fun! ;)

Always happy to read a Kitsune post. Go Anal Corn and the invading forces of poo!