JAPAN: Famitsu Sales and Ratings

JAPAN: Famitsu Sales and Ratings

Here’s this week’s round-up of scores and sales charts in Japan including LocoRoco, Brain Training, some Xbox 360 games and a Dead or Alive 4 demo. Includes opinion…

LocoRoco Faring Well

LocoRoco sold some 31,848 copies last week. It was released alongside a special PSP package that included LocoRoco. The game was marketed particularly at girls. A billboard advertisement inside the subway station of Omotesando, a trendy fashion district, is more than a hundred feet long, and plays the LocoRoco theme song. If you’ll surf around Japanese blog sits more than five minutes, you’ll find plenty of girls are playing it. The character and simple design appeals to them.

Yet a lot of the more hardcore game players are finding the game tedious, bland, or frustrating. One of the major complaints is that the stages, while visually appealing, were obviously designed by an artist, and not by an actual videogame designer. They are designed to be visually appealing as opposed to exciting to play. Players who haven’t spent as many dozens of hours playing, say, Castlevania or Megaman, players who haven’t devoted a large portion of their lives to scrutinizing the evolution of two-dimensional stage design in videogames seem to be enjoying the game just fine, blissfully ignorant of the quirks it carries.

Personally, I, too, find the game kind of tedious. It’s got its heart in the right place, however.

Brain Training

Brain Training has passed five million sales in Japan. More Brain Training is currently at 2,752,211 copies sold, and the original is at 2,539,922 copies. It’s interesting that the second title has sold more than 200,000 copies over the original. It’s been assumed that most of the people buying the second one already own the first one, and it’s very unlikely that people would be buying the second one if stores were sold out of the first one, which is what they really wanted. This is because Brain Training has never been in short supply.

It’s perhaps because of the box. Both boxes are nearly identical — a red bar at the top of a white package, and a design of Professor Kawashima’s face. However, the sequel has a yellow bar in the middle. This kind of bar is often employed by Japanese designers to indicate that a certain package of noodles has 30% more than the other package by the same brand.

In other words, it’s presumable that More Brain Training is selling more copies than the original because of people who buy the game having no idea what Brain Training really is. It’s the basic idea of the game that appeals to them, and the yellow bar that makes it seem like a better value.

Xbox 360 Games Rated

A lot of games are reviewed in this week’s Famitsu. None of them really look very interesting. The Japanese release of True Crime: New York City, from which the ability to kill civilians has been painstakingly removed, mysteriously scored a 32/40. That’s strange for an American game of that nature.

The much-anticipated Simple Series Volume 103: The Earth Defense Force Tactics scored a dismal 3, 5, 6, 5, marking the first score of "3" in a long, long time. People had high hopes for the game, as it belonged to the Earth Defense Force franchise. Apparently, it isn’t much good.

Senko no Ronde (the interesting, revolving one-on-one shoot-em-up) scores 7, 9, 8, 8. Bullet Witch, for which many have high hopes, scored 8, 6, 6, 7. Zegapain XOR, also by Cavia, the developer of Bullet Witch, scored a 7, 6, 6, 6. These scores are the ideal for fans of the types of games Cavia makes, so perhaps no one will complain.

Dead or Alive 4 Demo

Tecmo will release a demo of the fighting game Dead or Alive 4 on Japanese Xbox Live on July 25th.

Yes, the game was released six months ago.

According to current sales charts, the game has sold around 90,000 copies. There are currently about 150,000 Xbox 360s installed in Japan. So, more than half of 360 owners own Dead or Alive 4.

Yet the game has already been marked down at many retailers. You can find it for as cheap as 880 yen at some locations of Bic Camera, where male and female gamers alike lined up yesterday to buy Noble Pink DS Lite systems.

Why the sudden release of a demo? It’s hard to tell, really. Maybe Tecmo will order retailers to hike the price back up to the ridiculous sum of 8,000 yen. It’s hard to tell.

Six characters will be playable in the demo. Why wasn’t there a demo of this game available previously? Is it because that would lead people to realize that the whole game, essentially, is a demo? Oh, maybe I’m being mean.

The tactics are vaguely bewildering. Will this demo, really, drum up interest in the game? How many gamers who own a 360 and Xbox Live also don’t own Dead or Alive 4? There doesn’t seem like a lot of overlap. Not enough, anyway.

Like the fat baseball men in Namco and Konami’s character baseball games, the Dead or Alive girls’ faces, also, don’t change. It’s kind of disturbing, really. I have the game — girls with plastic-like skin are punching and kicking in the shadows of realistically-textured dinosaurs. It’s unsettling.