Wow, there is a ”lot” of news this week. As a result, I’m sort of just gonna blaze through most of it to avoid making this extremely long, only expanding on things I really want to (or already expanded on before I got hit by a deluge of headlines). I’m also forgoing the tags this time for the same reasons. On your marks, and… GO!
Valve Pitches Steam at BitSummit, but Neglects to Mention Successes
The recent BitSummit convention (which convened for the first time this year) for Japanese indie developers recently took place. Among other groups, Valve took the stage and spent their time attempting to pitch Steam Greenlight to the audience.
Steam is an unknown in Japan, so it’s unlikely that this had much of an effect. This was, in fact, a missed opportunity to Valve to incorporate successful English releases of Japanese indie titles into the presentation. However, a conversation I had with Andrew Dice, the man behind Carpe Fulgur, which brought Recettear overseas, on Twitter revealed that neither he nor Recettear developers EasyGameStation were contacted (so far as he knows). Recettear is currently one of the most known Japanese indie titles on Steam, so it could have easily been used as a motivator.
I took the opportunity to suggest that he arrange to go next year. It would be nice to see the Japanese indie scene embrace digital distribution rather than their current, extremely limited release schedule that is only selling games at conventions. This would also make it easier for more of their games to reach foreign markets, which can easily dwarf the sales they normally see, even if the game isn’t a huge success.
Hatsune Miku English Software Finally Coming Out
The English version of the Hatsune Miku software from the Vocaloid line of voice synthesizers has received a confirmed release date of Summer 2013. This was after a significant delay to ensure it was functioning properly.
There are currently twelve other English Vocaloids on the market, but none of them have anywhere close to the market penetration that Miku likely will.
In addition, Sega has asked for fan support on Facebook for the PS3 game Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F, a port of the Vita game of the same name. Sega also gauged interest for the game at E3 2012, making this the second time they had expressed interest in an English release.
Sim City Launch a Trainwreck
Sim City was released last week and ran into server issues, which annoyed practically all of their customers due to always-on DRM. Most people couldn’t even get to play. This and several other issues have caused massive backlash against the game, while EA is misleading people into thinking they’re doing something about it.
So much has happened over the past week over this that I can’t cover it all, but suffice to say that Amazon currently has it sitting at a 1-star rating with over 1000 reviews.
Several indie developers have jumped on the opportunity to push their own games, with Tropico 4, another city simulation game without such intrusive DRM, receiving a 75% discount on Steam and RawBots, an indie title currently in early alpha, giving you the game for free instead of its $30 price tag if you input the coupon code “SIMCITY”.
Sword Art Online to be Dubbed
This is among the news I forgot to mention last week. Sword Art Online, the most popular anime from the past year, is receiving a dub for the purposes of running on Neon Alley. Shockingly, this is probably the fastest turnaround time ever for a dub, since a preview episode will be shown in only a few months when most dubs take over a year.
Sword Art Online is based on a series of light novels of the same name. It follows a teenager named Kirito as he and many others are trapped in the titular virtual reality MMO video game. In order to leave, they must complete it.
Sword Art Online is written by Reki Kawahara, the same mind behind Accel World, which (along with Sword Art Online) took the top two spots in terms of light novel series by sales last year. Accel World is also being dubbed for Neon Alley.
Aniplex will be handling a physical release of Sword Art Online, and sub-licensed streaming rights to Crunchyroll. Viz is currently streaming Accel World to Americans using Hulu.
The Ambition of Oda Nobuna Anime Will Continue
The sixth and final Blu-Ray for the The Ambition of Oda Nobuna anime announced that the series is not over yet. Details are forthcoming, but one can safely assume that this means there will be a second season.
The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is based on the light novel series of the same name, and covers the life of Yoshiharu Sagara as he finds himself in Japan’s Warring States era with one catch – a lot of the historical figures are genderflipped. He decides to support Nobuna Oda on her quest to unite Japan.
Crunchyroll streamed the series as it aired in Japan.
Large Amount of Game Sequels Revealed
Through either trademark filings or official announcements, new games in the Thief, Deus Ex and The Walking Dead series have been announced. Thief and Deus Ex are critically acclaimed classic stealth and FPS series, respectively, with the first two Thief games being considered required playing for any stealth fan. The Walking Dead is a critically acclaimed episodic download-only adventure game based on a graphic novel series of the same name.
In addition, sequels to Japan-only titles CONCEPTION: Ore no Kodomo wo Undekure! (literally CONCEPTION: Please Give Birth to My Child!) and Assault the Cheating Boyfriend! Caught You Red-Handed have been announced. The original CONCEPTION was a PSP game that followed a high school kid who must impregnate star gods so they can give birth to star children, so he can take said children into dungeons for dungeon-crawling action. The original Assault the Cheating Boyfriend! was a download-only 3DS game where you play as a girl who suspects his boyfriend is cheating. You must then search their room for evidence of their adultery and confront them about it in a manner that reminds many of Ace Attorney due to its focus on finding contradictions. You also have the option of using the gyroscope to throw things at said boyfriend.
In a somewhat surprising move, Agatsuma Entertainment, whose only released title so far is Code of Princess, is the development house working on Farewell, Umihara Kawase, an upcoming platformer for 3DS in the Umihara Kawase series.
While not strictly a sequel, Level-5 has announced that they’d be releasing games from their Guild02 collection of small games overseas. Games from their previous collection, Guild01, such as Liberation Maiden (which is receiving a worldwide iOS port) were released outside Japan as separate download-only titles while the collection was a physical collection on a single card in Japan.
Other Stuff Happened in the Anime, Manga and Video Game Industries
I won’t even bother with context, but:
- Aniplex has confirmed their license of the second season of Oreimo.
- FUNimation has sued Animeland, a company which runs a convention, for actively ignoring requests to stop the sale of counterfeit goods.
- The recently revived Gin Tama anime will end again, at the end of the current season.
- A town where you live (Kimi no Iru Machi) is getting an anime adaptation.
- Media Blasters has dropped the majority of their licenses, including Bakuman and Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, meaning it’s even more likely that they’ll be folding completely soon.
- Fairy Tail‘s anime is confirmed to be continuing at a later date.
- The third Madoka Magica movie, which will be a continuation of the series (the first two were recaps) will run in Japanese theatres this fall. Aniplex has been giving the movies limited theatre runs in a variety of countries, including the US and Canada. An Australian licensor already has the home video rights for the entire trilogy, pending a potential dub.
- Toren Smith, one of the people responsible for manga even coming out in North America to begin with, has died.
- Viz has announced an iOS app specifically for manga in their Viz Kids line, such as Pokémon. They already have an app for their manga, so this is a weird move.
- A reputable Japanese newspaper has announced that Ken Akamatsu (of Love Hina and Negima! fame) will be starting his new series this summer. Of course, we already knew he had plans for 2013.
- The Saki spin-off Saki: Episode of Side A manga has just ended in Japan, and it seems there are plans for the artist and writer to work on another manga. Since the writer is the person doing both the art and story for the main Saki manga, people are wondering if this will also be some sort of spin-off for it.
- The new Hayate the Combat Butler anime that will start next season will have the subtitle Cuties. Rather than adapting the Athena arc like fans have been clamoring for, it will focus on the manga’s current setting and feature slice of life stories with one or two heroines per episode. It is also keeping the staff and designs from the previous Hayate anime, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, which was thoroughly terrible.
- EA is closing Visceral and BioWare San Francisco. There were also rumours of Dead Space 4 being cancelled, which were shot down.
- EA has backtracked on their earlier microtransaction comments after the backlash they’ve received.
- Internal notes within Sony reveal that they plan to ship 16 million PS4s by the end of the year. This is historically absurd, of course, even after acknowleding that shipments are different from sales.
- Malicious Rebirth, an enhanced Vita port of the Japan-only PS3 game Malicious, will be released in English. No word on who got the license, but the Japanese developers said they’d handed the game off to a localization group.
- One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 has confirmed several new playable characters. Notable among them are Perona, Tafalgar D. Law and Aokiji. The game is being released in Japan for Vita and PS3, but (like its predecessor) the PS3 version is coming out in English, with the UK getting a physical copy and North America getting it as download-only. There was no Vita version of the first game, but it isn’t coming outside of Japan for this one.
- Prices for the Piston, which is a 3rd-party Steambox, will range from $1000 to $1750. Valve is also working on a first-party Steambox.
- NIS has confirmed the type of cameo Asagi will be having for Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness. It will be as a “Super Idol”, alongside an apparently rather important angel. Very little other info is known at this time.
- Compile Heart is running a poll for cameo characters for their upcoming Mugen Souls Z game, which is a sequel to Mugen Souls (which NIS America localized). To prevent another Neptunia sweep (they monopolized the top of the poll when it was done for the original Mugen Souls), they’ve excluded them from the poll and are instead splitting the goddesses and Nepgear between the Limited Edition of the game and pre-order DLC.
- In response to the overwhelming support for their IndieGoGo campaign, the Skullgirls developers are adding a new stage to the game. Said capaign is still going strong.
- The Kickstarter campaign for the spiritual successor to Planetscape: Torment, titled Torment: Tides of Numenera, reached its goal in less than 6 hours and surpassed 2 million dollars in 2 days.
- A Kickstarter campaign for a 3D, clean remake of the eroge Monster Girl Quest reached 114% of its funding goal in a single day as well.
- Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (not a typo, that’s how they spelled it) is now the third Vita game to sell over 100K in its first week in Japan. It basically had the perfect storm of good press, an ongoing anime and the Vita price drop to help it do this, leading to double the sales of the previous titles in the series. The trophy list for the game lists a PS3 version, but this was confirmed to be an error that will be patched out.
- Project Happiness, the new game from the creator of Harvest Moon, has been revealed as Hometown Story for 3DS, which feels like a combat-less Recettear mixed with Harvest Moon. It will receive a worldwide release for 3DS later this year. There is an English trailer for it, if you look.