Sporadic Happiness (in Japan!)

(formerly) updated every Wednesday

#33 DS Game: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

My boyfriend recently got this game for me, with neither of us knowing too much about it except that it’s received really good reviews and is supposed to be a pretty awesome game.

My boyfriend was under the impression that it was a Visual Novel, where you’re reading lots of text and occasionally making choices in regards to interacting with the characters.  I’ve played a visual novel dating sim in the past, called Hiiro no Kakera:

Hiiro no Kakera DS [Japan Import]

I first began playing that back in 2008 or so.  Just by researching the link on amazon now I found out there’s since been 2 sequels as well.  Hmm, maybe I should consider getting one.  It seems to be the exact same characters as well.  I wonder how they continue the story.  Also, side note, I found out (devastatingly) that you can actually lose that game! You can actually make choices that lead to a “game over.” I was traumatized the first time it happened. Fortunately I’m the kind of person that saves pretty often so I just went back to a save and made a different choice.

Anyway, back to the game I want to talk about today.

It’s actually an adventure game, which means you explore a lot, find and use items, and solve puzzles. Some of the puzzles use math, but not hard math of course. Still, I need a pen and paper sometimes to work out solutions.

I’m really enjoying the game. The story is really compelling and the puzzles are pretty satisfying to solve. Also there’s this tense feeling in the air as you’re playing, considering the situation you’re in, which makes me want to keep going and see what will happen next. It’s definitely one of those games that are hard to put down, but that I’ve learned that you need to put down when you’re tired or else the puzzles and even the dialogue exchanges between characters can be a little confusing ;-)

Also, based on my own experience, I find the game to be very engrossing having gone into it with no prior knowledge and continuing to learn more as the story progresses, so I recommend this approach to others as well!

However, for those of you that are maybe on the fence about trying out this game, I will say it is a little Hunger Games-esque in that you’re forced into a situation against your will, and your goal is to stay alive.

Also, there are various endings you can get with this game, so even after you’ve played through it once, it’s interesting to play through it again, making different choices and going into different rooms and getting to explore new things. So it definitely has a lot of game play packed in.

Consider getting it if you have a DS! It certainly is a unique and compelling game.

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Omake #3: Pokemon Conquest Release Date!

I recently posted an article about a DS game that both my boyfriend and I are really into, called ポケモン+ノブナガの野望 or Pokémon + Nobunaga’s Ambition when translated into English.

At the time of posting, there was no US release date, but one recently has been announced.

The game will come out under the title of “Pokemon Conquest” and is set to be released in North America on June 18th, 2012.  Not too long to wait!

Amazon also has the price set at $29.99, which is very reasonable!  You can pre-order a copy already, or wait until it hits stores.


Pokemon Conquest

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#18 Pokemon Nobunaga DS Game

There’s a new pokemon game out on the market here in Japan, that was just released March 17th, 2012.

In English, it’s called “Pokemon + Nobunaga’s Ambition.”  The Japanese title is ポケモン+ノブナガの野望.  I’ve been trying to find a release date for it in the US but there doesn’t seem to be one announced as of yet…

My boyfriend bought it recently and has been playing it almost non-stop while we traveled around with his parents and his older brother during the past week.  We were on a whole lot of transportation – buses, trains, and boats – that there was ample time to play it.  While I often got bored or sleepy reading my Kindle, he was always engrossed in the game.

As we sat at a McDonald’s in Kyoto waiting for our overnight bus back to Hiroshima prefecture, I started reading the instruction manual and glancing over his shoulder, asking questions about how the game worked.  It seemed so unique and engrossing that I decided to purchase my own copy.

Like many people my age and younger, we’ve basically grown up with Pokemon.  I started playing in middle school with the original red and blue, and played through every generation of games released since then, often playing both versions (red AND blue, ruby AND sapphire, gold AND silver).  Though I only played Pearl, and not Diamond.  A few years back I even bought Heart-Gold, a remake of the gold and silver games, and played it through until I burnt out.

When Black and White came out last year, my boyfriend bought one while I decided to opt out.  I needed a break.  Besides, pokemon was practically all my 5th grade students ever talked about at lunch, all the preschoolers ever talked about (which pokemon is stronger? discussions) and I was tired of hearing about it all the time that I didn’t want to spend extra time on it myself at home.  Plus I was freshly in Japan on JET at the time, that I had a lot more on my plate in terms of exploring and making friends that I didn’t want to pour hours into a video game.

Recently, after getting burnt out of WoW and wanting to take a break from it, I’ve found myself without a video game and without any real good distractors for relaxing and passing the time at home in the evenings.  I’ve been reading books like crazy but I can only take so much of that or it makes me sleepy.  So after jealously watching my boyfriend pour over his version of the new Pokemon game, my mind was made up to get one for myself.

Let me tell you, the game has not disappointed.  It provides all the familiarity and enjoyment of having pokemon to battle with, while allowing you to do so in a new style.  This game has elements similar to Advance Wars or Age of Empires if you’ve played either of those on the DS, in that you interact on a map, and you move your units (your pokemon) around the grid, and can only fight within certain distances.  Also there’s usually interesting things going on on the maps, such as lava that only fire pokemon can cross or stand in, extending and retracting vine bridges, switches and levers, various heights on the map that are only accessed in certain ways, and all sorts of interesting things.

The basic premise of the game is that you are a Busho (Warrior) leader of a town/castle called Hajime (which means “The Beginning”).  You want to expand your realm to include all the nearby realms (castles) so that you can have a super-power realm, and gain access to the power of legendary pokemon.  I think you’re also trying to unite everyone in peace.  However, bad-guy Nobunaga wants to do the same thing you’re doing – acquire all the nearby territories – to wreak havoc and destruction.  You surely don’t want that to happen, do you?  So you better get all those areas under your control before Nobunaga gets to them.

Each enemy castle is a certain type of pokemon (fire, water, bug…) just like gyms.  Once you beat the first battle at a new castle (you’re invading them), then you get access to the castle and can do certain things there.  You can also recruit trainers from that castle, and the pokemon that go with them.

An interesting element, unlike standard pokemon games, is that each pokemon must be attached to its own trainer.  You are not the sole trainer – you only get one pokemon, and instead of being one trainer with many pokemon, you are instead a team of trainers working all together.  Of course, you get to control the other members of the team and choose their actions in battle.  Though, each pokemon gets only one move that they can use, as well as a special move that is automatically activated once fulfilling certain conditions (such as being near enough to an enemy that you put it to sleep).  Each trainer also comes with a special move you can only use once during the whole battle.  The trainers themselves have their own stats you need to pay attention to – things like power and intelligence.  Also vitally important is a trainers “link” with its pokemon – meaning, how well do they work together?  Trainers often specialize in one or two types – normal maybe, or water and dragon, or something like that.  When you first get a trainer to join your team (by beating them badly and showing them how awesome you are), they come with a pokemon.  But sometimes that pokemon isn’t the best fit for that trainer.  In that case, you might want to go out and catch it a new wild pokemon that fits with it better.  This is a matter of not only matching type (water-based trainer with a water pokemon) but finding a particular pokemon within a type category – not all water pokemon may gel with a certain water trainer.  So you’ve got a lot more to think about and do if you want to build a stellar team.

When you fight battles, you can fight with a maximum team of 6 (you and 5 other trainers), in tradition with the pokemon system using 6 elements to battle.  You can use less of course, but no more.  Also you can have more than 6 trainers in your realm, but a max 6 per castle.  You can move people around, and generally want some to guard your castles in case an enemy faction tries to invade.  Each month in the game (the unit of time they use for advancing the plot) each trainer can do some action, whether it’s enter into a battle to gain trainers, pokemon, or stengthen themselves, prospect for gold, or feed their pokemon “ponigiri” (pokemon + onigiri – rice balls) to raise their link.  Once all of your trainers have done an action, the game advances to the next month.  I don’t know how forgiving the game is but I do know you’re trying to get everywhere before Nobunaga does, so there is some pressure to keep moving forward and not putz around too much.  My guess is that at certain months certain events will take place, and you either are or aren’t equipped to handle them (such as invasions).

Also, like pokemon, the game has a 2 player function where you can battle each other.  I’m still trying to catch up with my boyfriend but I hope to make some use of that as well.

Here’s hoping it will come out in the US in English – it’s a great addition to the pokemon genre, and a breath of fresh air for us lifetime pokemon fans who have gotten tired of standard game play.

Alternatively, if you know Japanese, the game is out now!  Why not consider buying it?  There are plenty of websites to get games from Japan if you’re not currently there, such as http://www.play-asia.com – here’s the direct link:


It may seem a bit pricey, but promises to afford hours of gameplay (like traditional pokemon games), and it is definitely a unique game.

Also, each cartridge comes with a special edition Pokemon Card Game Card!

Thanks for reading!

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