Japanese Import Oddness

Sometimes I take a gamble and throw money at a game that has next to no information out there about it other than, well...that's the said game is a bit odd, quirky, bizarre, unexpected, bonkers, and quite unlike anything else out there in a world full of games that want to be part of the "in" by coping each other to death. While you are very unlikely to see any risk taking oddness over here, Japan has, like many they do with many other things, has a habit of putting that exactly the kind of games I'm talking about. The obvious problem with this is the language barrier, which is made even more difficult when some of these games have no info on them online whatsoever, unless you get lucky with a translated guide.

Of course, 'odd' doesn't exactly mean good or bad, so the gamble comes in wherever or not said daft idea actually works, or in this case, can work when you can't read a word of Japanese. Luckily, Dreamcast import games can be picked up pretty cheap, especially compared to Japanese Saturn games which are often far above my budget. The following games will be rated for how playable they are, how much you can manage playing it without any knowledge of the lingo, and of course how bloody weird they are.

SENGOKU TURB

Blew about £6 on this one. First time I had seen it on Ebay and still sealed up so I took the plunge, convinced it'd be one of those "so bad it's good" experiences judging from this video below. What I got was a action RPG that appears to be animated using a bunch of Playmobil toys and Lego blocks, and voice acting from strangled robotic mutant cats with rabies. But hey, at least most of the menu's are in English!

The game starts with the heroine, and anorexic playmobil girl a some floating cat things running away from a bunch of explosions. Your character is sent off to some planet populated by cats that are currently at war with erm...fairies, and you end up becoming a leader of a group of cat troops who are all useless and die within minutes of a battle. This is about all I could make out from the lengthly cut scenes full of text and ear destroying voices.


The actual battle is real time like Phantasy Star Online, only crap. You run about at the start with a dingy little sword and swing clumsily at fairies as all your cat troops mass suicide. Every time you kill one of the darn things it releases the most horrific scream you have ever heard. Somehow I beat the first level and now I have two new areas I can go to, both of which I die at within seconds, and this is as far as I have bothered to go so far. There is probably something I have to upgrade or something, but the most unlike the menus, all the items are in Japanese. In between the level I beat and the level I'm stuck at there was this odd scene where some Cat characters catch a small fairy and you have to decide wherever or not to let it free or er...eat it. Hmm.

RANDOM FACT: The game is developed by NEC, who actually produced the graphics processor for the Dreamcast. You would think they would know how to use their hardware well if they developed it, but judging by this game they must of accidentally ported a poor N64 engine over.

So was it worth it? No, not really. The music is darn catchy though, even if everything else goes out of it's way to hurt your ears and eyes. Despite this, Segagaga Domain's description of the mini-game filled sequel is tricking me into thinking that will be worth buying cheap, if just for it's title alone which is the longest and most ridiculous title I have ever seen.

Sengoku Turb - Fanfan I Love me Dunce doublentendre.

Wow.

ROOMMANIA # 203

I had read the odd review of this one, which was also ported and given a sequel on the PS2, apparently it was pretty popular, and there is also some very helpful guides for this game floating around on the Internet, so I gave it a shot. Imagine an interactive version of Big Brother only without the annoying freaks desperate for fame and you're half way there with what this is like. You play as, wait for it...GOD, or at least a deity sent down by god to watch over a lazy waste of space Japanese guy who slumps about in his flat doing nothing with his life, and you have to make his life more interesting by acting as his Jiminy Cricket and leading him into situations he would never get into on his own.

You have multiple camera angles of his apartment in which he'll mostly be sitting in, watching TV (which will sometimes show footage from Crazy Taxi, of all things!) and smoking. To motivate him into looking at something, you have to throw little ping balls at objects in timed succession to slowly ween him over to it. Throw them too fast, and he will do anything but what you want, too slow and he'll not notice you. It takes quite a while to nail the timing.

The real fun comes about from when he leaves the apartment for work. Now you are able to travel all over the apartment and really mess about with his stuff. For example, you can take away objects like his alarm clock, turn the TV on, moves things like his table about, or even lock the front door. Then in the afternoon when he returns from work, you can watch as he freaks out. There's nothing quite like seeing him walk in on a trashed table and panicking that someone may of broke in, or having to climb through the window when you lock his door. fart arsing around with his stuff and seeing his reaction is the highlight of the game.

You have missions set to you, which you are given so many game days to beat, which are given to you with nothing but a visual clue. If you fail most of these missions the guy will lose his job and get kicked out of the apartment, succeed in them and all sorts of truly bizarre events will happen to him, which I'd rather not spoil. Simply put, this is a amazingly unique game easily up there with Seaman that you'll most defiantly need a guide for if you have no Japanese knowledge, but is well worth a try. It;s also full of the kind of stuff that would be impossible to get any kind of intelligible translation from because it's just so Japanese (much like a lot of Segagaga), including this odd puppet show the guy watches. Ii will baffle and confuse you to no end, but you'll still find yourself somehow wrapped up into it.


KIRESTUBOY'S GAN-GA-GAN

What sold me on this one was the fact that it uses the Microphone, which you apparently use to shout at monsters. Other than that I had no idea what to expect. When you first start up the game I presume it asks you you to shout into the microphone, to which based on your voice will pick a little monster for you to play as (I got that little green samurai type thing in the left center of the box art). From there you walk around what appears to be a Japanese house (You're tiny, by the way, so everything is massive) and bumping into things seems to randomly set of battles with other monsters thingys.

This is where some knowledge of the lingo would come in handy. You have a little stage each and you have to shout at each other, producing huge stone words that will smack into your opponent. Obviously though, most of the time I shout gibberish at the mic, I'll just produce a question mark that doesn't do anything, and then I get my arse kicked as huge Japanese words pummel my poor little Samurai. Shouting the same words the opponents say seems to sometimes work, but I think you have a certain saying for your own monster you must use, and of course I don't know what that is. Oddly enough i have lost a lot of battles but never seem to get a game over screen, it just seems to go on forever. I really need a guide for this if I expect to get anywhere at all, me thinks.

PRO YAKYU TEAM DE ASOBU SERIES

The least 'odd' game of the bunch but odd enough as these kind of cartoon baseball games have been all the rage in Japan for yonks while we're stuck with the boring realism of World Series Baseball and the like. This particular series by Sega started on the Saturn, and is not quite as popular as Konami's similar series which is still going with it's latest edition on the Wii and PS2, whereas this Sega series stopped a after one or two PS2 installments.

In other words, this game is wonderful, if only for the HomeRun mode for me, as I haven't really figured out the controls or all the rules of the main game, but once you know what you're doing you've got yourself a fun and additive game with some of the bounciest most fun cartoon graphics I have seen on the Dreamcast, up there with the visuals in Florigan Bros. The muppet like characters with their daft high pitched voices are a right laugh, too. "PLAYBUUUU!"

There's about 4 or 5 versions of this game which are mostly the same, and from I've seen the one with the box above is your best bet as some of the others are management sims with a feck load of Japanese text. Dreamcast Doctor, a Youtuber who shows of quite a few unusual Japanese Dreamcast games at his account (he's pretty hardcore, he even has the big Segagaga box set which he shows off in one video), has a video of one of these games which may or may not sell you on it.



There are many other strange games out there that I will, one day, find cheap enough to risk buying for a few hours of confusion and bafflement, and if my attempts so far are anything to go by, at the most half of these will actually be good games. We shall see..

9 comments:

nick944 said...

The first game looks pretty interesting, but the graphics and voices are pretty bad. I'm really interested in the baseball game. It looks like the baseball on Wii Sports only 5 times better. How much did that game cost you?

fatherkrishna said...

My own forray into the world of Japanese gaming was dinstinctly less succesful... I bought three titles from Play Asia: The first was an RPG with an English theme tune and some English titles but obviously unintelligible Japanese dialogue, set in a sort of LOTR environment. I played it for about five minutes.

The second was a football game (so I thought) but it turned out to be a football manager game, again sustaining about five minutes of gameplay!

But I did manage to score the same Baseball game and when playing it one of my mates thought it was on the Wii (I didn't have one at the time...) Easily one of my favourite sports sims and a lot of fun!

Another quality post Gagaman(n)!

I promise to contribute something soon... Probabaly about RE3!

The GagaMan(n) said...

I got 2 of the five baseball games amongst a bundle of Japanese games for roughly £1 each, but buying one on it's own would be about £3-5. Well worth the cheap price!

The GagaMan(n) said...

Oh hey, I just blew a tenner on another oddity, a puzzle game called the Lost Golem. Read about it here: http://gogamego.blogspot.com/2007/01/dreamcasts-best-and-rarest-puzzler.html

NebachadnezzaR said...

Amazing post!

I'm so into these weird Japanese titles. My collection is not huge, but still I have some weird shit among my "regular" DC games. Besides a crapton of shooters like Last Hope, Under Defeat, Radilgy or Shikigami No Shiro II (I'm currently after Karous), I also have

-Zusar Vazar
-RUN= Dim as Black Soul
-Cool Cool Toon
-Macross M3
-Frame Gride

and probably more, can't remember all of them right now.

Caleb said...

I just want to make a comment about how ORIGINAL the Mii characters from Wii-Sports are. I mean NOBODY had a game like that before...

I guess I had better pick up that Japanese version of Sega Bass fishing so I fit in here.

I currently have NO imports. (Except that copy of Half Life which isn't really an import at all)

It's weird because I have found lots of Japanese imports for the Playstation but no decent ones for the Dreamcast, (except for the Bass fishing one which I did see but did not buy)

fatherkrishna said...

That's a good collection of shooters Nebacha!

The GagaMan(n) said...

I'd love to own me most of those shooters, but they're usually way above my budget (I don't tend to go anything over £25 for games on any system, even new ones). I own Frame Gride, which is sort of like a clunkier Vitual On, and have played Zusar Vusor, which has quite possibly the worst name for a game I have ever heard.

NebachadnezzaR said...

All those shooters are actually pretty interesting.

Last Hope is probably the worst, but is one of the few R-Type like, horizontal shooters on the DC. Under Defeat on the other hand is one of the best shooters I've ever played (and I've played Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun!).

Radilgy has a unique art style, and Karous, from what I've heard, is pretty similar but with a darker tone.

As for Shikigami No Shiro II, it's one of the few shooters were you control a person instead of a spaceship or something, much like the good old ESP Ra.De