Japan Gaming Life
Spending too much time playing games is something I would not really recommend - the world waits for nobody and while you spend 50 hours or so to complete a particular game, you could have spent that time to make advances in your life career or even change the world.
Having said that, if you spend 50 hours without a break from time to time then you probably would not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. While it may be difficult to break away from work or school to go for a bout of badminton or swimming, games are something that you can pick up for a few mins or a couple of hours - ideal for a break. Just remember to know when to stop!
I've been speaking with a few game makers of late and one thing I've learned is that many games are designed to last a certain amount of hours - 10 hours, 50 hours or whatever and the reason is because the consumer these days expects to get a bang from their buck. Take a look at the game reviews which mention "this game has at least 20 hours of game play" for example.
You will notice that games these days more often than not show the amount of time you have been playing. Many games in the good ol days (Super Famicom, Megadrive etc) would last about 20 mins but be jam packed with action.
These days, you are more often than not (takes deep breath) running around a map looking for a key that opens a door that gives you the special ability to open a door that contains a switch that opens a door on the other side of the map that contains a huge boss that fills up the screen who gives you the ability to extend a bridge to get to the next level - all designed to make the playing time longer.
I usually get bored of games that take ages to complete which is why I got so many that I've never seen the ending of ^^; How about you? Does it matter how many hours of game play there is?
Anyway, today I thought I'd try to start a new series that looks at my gaming lifestyle - TV console, handheld and mobile.
The first photo is of Devil May Cry DmC. I've been playing the Devil May Cry series since the first one on the PS2 back in 2001 and always got used to a white haired Dante so the news of the latest DmC didn't look too good. But after playing, I was surprised at how good the game play was. However, some of the weapons and moves look incredibly powerful but it still takes 20 hits to knock of some small pawn character ^^;
Original DMC Japanese CM below.
I had a Super Famicom back in the good ol days and am happy that I can indulge in nostalgia form time to time. The game plugged in here is Konami title Contra Spirits.
Best shooter of all time - Axelay - another Konami title.
Its been nearly a year and a half since the PS Vita (review here) hit the streets but the games are still few and far between. As you can see from this screen most of the games I play on my Vita are are actually PSP games ^^;
I loved games on the PSP and seeing them on a bigger screen kind of breathes some fresh air back into them.
Some of my fave games for the PSP - I paid about 500 yen per title to use the UMD Passport to get access to the download versions so that I could play them on the Vita.
Valkyria Chronicles 3 is just fantastic and The 3rd Birthday is another title that I completely recommend.
Playing the 3rd Birthday second time round on Hard however has been a challenge for me ><
I did pick up Monster Hunter for the PSP but didnt really get into it - I was immediately put off from continuing to play the game after the player had to go round killing the babies of monsters. Most of the monsters were just minding their own business and going around killing them just goes against my policies of attacking others for no reason ^^
I do find myself spending more time on a handheld console though which you can play for a bit and let it sleep when you finished - then come back to start playing immediately.
TV consoles however have a bigger hurdle to start playing - you need to wait until the console boots up, turn on the TV and then choose the game channel then choose the game you want to play then wait for all the logos and warnings about uploading to the internets is illegal blah. TV consoles should also have a sleep function too so that you can come back from a break and start playing immediately. I think the PS4 will have this feature.
I have a bad habit of picking up new games even though I've not finished previous ones. Metal Gear Rising was another big change in the MGS series where the hero switched to being Raiden. I've always liked Raiden though and this is certainly a refreshing change.
The visuals are awesome and gameplay is satisfying when you get all the timings right to pull out those fuel cell thingies from the other cyborgs. Lot of games these days are made so that the voices are English to save on costs - I'm glad that at least the Japan version has kept to Japanese dialog.
Some comrades over for a bout of Metal Gear Rising.
And this is what it looks like - comes with adapter thingies which you just attach to the Dualshock.
Much more convenient than charging through a cable - and less mess too.
The Dualshock fits snugly in place on the charging stand.
Another reason why I dont play on the TV consoles as much as I do on the handhelds - system updates! 3 times of 5 I would be faced with an update - and by the time its finished I dont feel like playing on it anymore ^^;
The unit size is quite big so its not *that* portable but the big screen is great.
The 3DS LL and Vita on their charging stands. The clock application for the Vita can be download for free from the Playstation Store - forgot what its called ^^;
And this is what prompted me to pick up the 3DS LL - Castlevania Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate [キャッスルヴァニア 宿命の魔鏡] which I also got at Amazon. If you like the Castlevania series and own a 3DS then you need this in your collection.
I did find this game to me more of an exploration that battling with monsters in the castle though. The music is very atmospheric and after completing the game I wanted more! Give us some DLC!
The first version of Castlevania I played was back in 1991 for the Super Famicom. There is just something cool about exploring a castle with a whip ^^;
The PS3 version of Castlevania was made by the same team who did the 3DS version. While the 3DS was in traditional platform style, the PS3 version is in 3D. Have only played it for a bit but while it has incredible visuals and atmospheric music, I found the 3DS version to be far more enjoyable.
Just like the 3DS version, you need to press buttons at the right timing to advance but unlike the 3DS version, its not clear when you are supposed to hit those buttons. The 3DS version has a marker on the map to tell you which direction you should generally be heading in but there is no map in the PS3 version and I'm currently lost in some swamp at the moment ^^;
Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame was also involved in the production of PS3 Castlevania.
My current PS3 play list. No other titles on my radar at the moment - any up n coming titles that we should know about?
Kid Icarus has had rave reviews and looked pretty decent too. The controls are a bit fiddly though as you need to use the pen and the slide pad at the same time. Not played it long enough to give an opinion on it.
As the controls are fiddly, your hands get tired after a while which is why the game comes with this stand but is only really useful if you are going to play while sitting at a table.
The 3DS stand folds like so.
And opens like so.
And this is what it looks like with the 3DS rested on the stand.
While we are on the subject of the S3, we may as well take a look at a few of my fave Android games. First up is Blazing Star - a most awesome Neo Geo shooting game. You can download it for your Android or iOS.
But I'd rather play games with tactile buttons and have been looking for a painless solution to use a joypad with the S3 - any of you dabbling in this area?
The DS and PSP served me well but are now decommissioned ToT.
As for the XBOX 360 - I only picked it up for the Kinect which I think is most coolsome but when I have the choice of going for the PS3 or XBOX version (like DmC) I usually go for the PS3 as the UI is just much more refined. the XBOX UI gets on my nut!
The latest game I got for the XBOX is Dance Central 3.
Without a HDMI output, the Wii graphics dont look too great at all so this fella is also decommissioned.
Aoi-chan is the gamer out of all my girls.
With the addition of the 3DS, this is what the gaming corner looks like now.
Some folks was asking why I ask others not to spend their life playing games when I got so many games machines myself ^^;
I love games (which is why I play) but I recommend (not tell) folks to consider using their precious time to do other things in life in addition to playing games. I personally know a few folks who do nothing but play games and live off their parents savings. One mother was telling me how she even has to bring her son food and leave it outside his room...
Another reason why I make time to play games is because my clients make games too and I am required to not only be in the loop on the game scene but also play to understand the consumer experience.
A survey published by Famitsu shows that the next game machine that most people want is the PS vita (64%) followed by the 3DS (48%) with the Wii U at 33% and PS3 at 25%. "PC" got 14% of the votes while the 360 only managed 10%.
How about you? What games machine do you want next?
And this is how it all started - with the Sega Megadrive. While I did game on the Commodore 64, the Sega Megadrive was not only first entry into Japanese gaming but also opened up a gateway to Japanese culture.
And this is my room when living back in the UK. I'm in the middle of painting my walls while my friend comes over for a bout of Starfox on the Super Famicom. You can also see my PC Engine DUO in the photo too. I loved the first ever Starfox and will probably pick up the 3DS version.
One of my fave PC Engine games was Thunderforce.
When I first started to game, I wanted to find out more information about Megadrive games so I went to the couple of bookstores in London to look for a magazine called "Megadrive Fan." Instead I discovered a magazine called "PC Engine Fan" which always had cute 2D girlies on the cover and came with an interesting manga series too which is why I bought it ^^; I ended up with much more copies of PC Engine Fan and hardly any of Megadrive Fan ^^;
I also discovered the world of Japanese Idols too. The rest of this story is in the How Discovering Japan Changed My Life post.
Thought we would take a look at how I started to work with the companies who made the games that influenced me many moons ago.
This photo taken at the Konami HQ in Roppongi after one of our regular meetings. Going through my fave games, I realised that most of them were by Konami so was over the moon that I eventually got to work with them on the Love Plus website.
Together with the big boss of Good Smile Company Aki-san and comrades at Sega. The Sega Megadrive was my gateway to Japanese Culture so it was great to be able to work with them on various projects including Twin Angel which is a franchise of the Sega Sammy slot machines.
The Chief Operating Officer of Bandai Namco Games is a committee member of the Japanese governments CIIC (Creative Industries Internationalization Committee) that I'm on which is why I got to hook up with him - went over to have lunch with him and his key team members this week. Their headquarters are huuuge!
My all time fave Namco game has been Ridge Racer - have loved the series since R4 on the PS1 that had incredible music which I listed to even today as I drive. I didn't get the Vita version however as I heard that it only came with a couple of cars and tracks? Instead I got the PSP version to play on the VITA ><
And the Vita version below.
Together with the Bandai Namco Games COO and his team - I'm looking forward to working with them on some cool stuff in the future ^o^
The yellow character is from Mojipittan - the hiragana puzzle game with great music and awesome for learning Japanese. If you dont have any means of getting hold of Mojipittan then you can go for Moekana instead ^^;
And as I was writing up this post, a new game just happened to arrive - Super Mario Buradahs for the 3DS.
Anyway, after getting to speak with the folks who make games, I've learned that development costs of a game usually starts at 1 billion yen (about 10 million USD) but can easily go up to 5 times that - and I thought that the production cost of anime was expensive!
To put things in contrast, a movie length anime costs about 2 hundred million yen (about 2 million USD)
I was told that the US generally spends much more on marketing of the game which can end up being in the millions of USD.
With the raising costs of development and less people playing console games, its becoming increasingly difficult for the game industry to make money - from console games that is. For mobile games its a different matter. I picked up a mobile gaming mag in the convenience store the other day and 99% of the games are all card based. They are usually free and get you to pay for something in the game to advance.
I've tried out a couple of games to see what sort of game elements were being enjoyed by consumers but I didn't find any game elements at all. Most of the games advance without much thought and give the player a sense of advancement even though it was just tapping a button.
It would be sad to see game companies start to pour all their attention into these in-app-purchase mobile games due to the lower development costs, ease of distribution and lucrative turnaround.
Its very difficult to visualise these card based mobile games becoming legendary retro titles in the future - but bills need to be paid and employees need to be fed and I understand why game companies are turning their attention to the mobile gaming market.
Going from your feedback however, it looks like the Japanese game industry need to localize much more of their titles for the global market.
So how about you? Tell us what games you are playing and maybe share photos of your gaming setup in the comments below.