HOT-SUBAI: Tomato Mart and Big Mario Jump the Gundam

Ahh, Akihabara, the mecca — nay, the Las Vegas of videogames. Uhh. I didn't go there today. I went to Nakano instead. Nakano is Akihabara in a shoebox. I like shoeboxes. Saw something interesting there.

Two of my favorite game shops — Big Mario, in the covered "Sun Plaza" shop street leading from the Nakano Station North Square up to the entrance of the mammoth Nakano Broadway, and Tomato Mart, tucked up high in a corner of the third floor of the labyrinthine Broadway building itself, were doing what they do best on this terrible rainy day, and they were doing it with great vigor: they was breaking the shit out of some street dates.

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Japanese lesson: "HATSUBAI" is Japanese for "on sale". "Hatsubai chuu" means "now on sale". "Shin-hatsubai" means "new release". "Saishinsaku" means "newest release". I prefer to think of "Hatsubai" as spelled "Hot-subai", so there you go. Welcome to the first installment of Kotaku Hot-subai. (I just made that up!)

Tomorrow, Thursday, December 18th, 2008, is a street date that will live in infamy. The amount of hardcore-gamer-friendly big, big videogames officially going on sale tomorrow on all major platforms is substantial enough that just one copy of each game would be enough to gag the gargantuan space monster through which the player pilots a manned spacecraft in the NES classic Abadox if pressed into the right wall of epithelial tissue. I'm going to put the next paragraph in bold for the people who are skimming:

Here is a list of the games going on sale here in The Japan tomorrow:

Actually, we're not going to do a full list, because there are fifty-four games being released tomorrow (link: Game Watch), and we'd be here all day, much as it would amuse me personally to go into great lengths as to why EA Sports Rugby Greatest Hits edition for the PlayStation 2 is being released entirely in English.

Prince of Persia (PS3, Xbox 360)

It's been fully localized into Japanese. Pop quiz: Will the Japanese recognize the copious Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus references? (Answer: of course not!)

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Fate: Unlimited Codes (PS2)

"Fate: Stay Night" was an erotic visual novel game which later became the muse of many fan comics and fan fictions, then an animated series, then emerged clean on the other end as a fighting game. Earlier this year, one of my favorite developers, cavia (who also leave their name uncapitalized by choice), joined forces with Eighting (which is not a typo on "Fighting") to develop a Fate arcade fighter, which Capcom is now releasing for the PlayStation 2. Being that it's developed by niches within niches, it is priced at a horse-asphyxiating 7,230 yen, which is way more than I'm willing to pay for morbid curiosity. Pity.

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Sonic World Adventure (Wii)

It's Sonic: Unleashed, with a less "EXTREME!" (in other words, very generic) title. Will Japanese gamers fall in love with Sonic the Werehog? Short answer: probably not! Like NiGHTS for Wii, I expect this one to plummet to 1,200 yen within two months, at which point I will snatch it up with evil claws.

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Karaoke Joysound Wii (Wii)

Joysound is a leading provider of karaoke equipment and software. This is a game sponsored by them, and published by good old lovable Hudson, they of the cute bee mascot. It comes with a microphone, and it's only 6,000 yen! You can get a second microphone for 2,000 yen. I wouldn't be surprised if this sells a decent amount, despite Singstar and Lips' already existing. Then again, the walls be thin here in The Japan, and the neighbors be passive aggressive. I could swear that every time I play my guitar past eight PM the guy next door somehow pisses on my cactus.

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Actually, ahem, this Joysound karaoke is kind of a big deal. They say they've got 30,000 songs available to sing, and that you can sing as many songs as you want for just 300 Wii Points per every 24 hours. Come to think of it, this is the first I've heard of such a pricing scheme. Interesting. I'm curious to see how it works out.

Ragnarok Online DS (DS)

It's Ragnarok Online, for DS! Capitalizing on the wireless-play action-RPG torch ignited by Monster Hunter and carried by Phantasy Star Portable.

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Lego Batman (PS3, Xbox 360)

LOL.

Tales of Hearts: Anime Movie Edition (DS)

It's a new entry in Namco's Tales series, though since the first two Tales games on the DS sold (very) poorly and ended up in piles in bargain bins, they've decided to make this one a different kind of "Tales" game. The "genre" tab on the back calls it an "RPG about meeting hearts". What the hell does that mean? I don't know. What's even more baffling . . .

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Tales of Hearts: CG Movie Edition (DS)

. . . is that there are two versions of the game, one with hand-drawn anime cut-scenes, and one with CG cut-scenes. Apparently, the contents of the game are otherwise identical. Scope out the games for yourself, though. Look at the CG version. Now look at the anime version. Ain't that eerie? What were they thinking? This reminds me of how Bandai-Namco published both that terrible Gundam game and the decent Ridge Racer 7 on the PlayStation 3 launch day, and then held some kind of cheap raffle on their website in which players who bought both games could win, like, a coffee mug or a bath towel. Seriously, they were some cheesy prizes. What do you win if you buy both versions of Tales of Hearts?

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Suikoden: Tierkeris (DS)

The latest Suikoden game, and it's on the DS. The Suikoden team had, previously, attempted to capture the DS audience with Time Hollow, which was a really cute little graphical adventure about time travel. It didn't sell. So here's another Suikoden game. As RPG series go, Suikoden is polite and admirably lacking in idiotic bombast. Its fans are people with hearts of gold. In Tomato Mart today, where the street date lay shattered on the floor, a couple both dressed in gothic black maid-like cosplay of ferocious cheapness (seriously, it looked like their pants were made of black-spraypainted newspaper) trembled with violent joy when the girl at the counter told them that, yes, Suikoden was in stock, and yes, they could buy two copies. That said, I played this game at Tokyo Game Show and fighting its battles felt like reading the stocks page under six hundred feet of water.

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Bokujou Monogatari: Youkoso! Kaze no bazaar e (Harvest Moon: Welcome to the Wind Bazaar) (DS)

By the gods, look at this game. Does that not look like joy on a plate? It's a new Harvest Moon, and it has a country fair in it. What a shame it's released on such a crowded day. I will buy this game when its price hits the floor, and I will hug it like a teddy bear, and then I'll probably play it for a half an hour before realizing I should just be lifting weights.

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Gundam Musou 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, PS2)

This one will be the big (huge) seller, no doubt. The basic gist of Gundam Musou 2 is that it's the same game as Gundam Musou, only the ground is a different color sometimes. You're in this big robot and you're just smashing the shit out of other robots, just swinging your robot sword and firing your little robot laser. Sometimes one of your friend robots calls you up and is like "Shit man, I need some help over here", so you follow this arrow and you sneak up real awesome-like, smashing dudes on the way, and then you can see the dude you're supposed to help — he's like, standing there in the middle of a huge-ass field all by himself with like one robot standing in front of him and another one standing on his left, just kind of staring at him, and his life meter is up in the corner, like, ticking down, llike they's nervousing him to death or some shit man, that shit is tight. Most of the time, though, it's all good, man, like, you're standing at the top of a hill and there's like a million robots down at the bottom and they all look sweet as hell, all exactly the same, all high def and shit, and they're just standing there, holding their guns and waiting for you to smash their asses, and sometimes there's a boss, like, some dude in a robot that looks kind of like yours though like I don't know man some shit's different, like he knows how to press the square button or something.

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Gundam Musou 2 sells for a hippo-choking 7,800 yen — money which could be used to donate a two-year-supply of dietary biscuits and apple juice to starving children in Africa — or a 13,400-yen Treasure Box edition which contains all the meaningless trash you can see in this photograph.

The slogan for Gundom Musou is "Densetsu wa — aratana jidai e". "The Legend Enters a New Generation". Uhh, okay. So why's it still on PS2?

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Let's Tap (Wii)

Yuji Naka: he left Sega, he made his own company, he did nothing, he decided to make a game, Sega publishes it. It's "the world's first game you play without touching the controller". The game, he told me during one of our frequent chats at Starbucks (warning: that's a lie; he told me at TGS), was based on a pissed-out idea he got when he and Game Designer friend were LOLling at the oversensitivity of the Wiimote. We should just make a game where you put the controller on a cardboard box and touch the box to play the game, they said. So they made it. The original tag line was "the world's first game that even penguins can play". I asked Naka how a penguin would play this game. He replied, shrewdly, "With its flippers". Aha. "Or its beak". Intelligent man. I will Make Purchase of this game — priced at a reasonable 4,980 yen — and proceed to get very drunk (on Sprite Zero) whilst playing it and its Wiiware cousin Let's Catch, tomorrow night. (Probably alone. (winking sad face))

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TIM ROGERS' PICK OF THE WEEK, however, goes to

Bleach: Versus Crusade (Wii)

It's a Treasure game, so it is awesome. It's a Bleach game, so it will be released in decent quantities. Everyone is going to win. I played it at TGS and loved it. I'm probably going to love it for real, and in private, when it's not eight damned dollars.

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THE POINT OF THIS STORY

All of the games listed above were on the shelves and on sale at Tomato Mart and Big Mario, Tokyo's two most-reliable street-date crushers. Well, come to think of it, neither Tomato Mart nor Big Mario had Gundam Musou 2 for Xbox 360. That was a little funny. Avid players of the Musou series rely on Tomato Mart and Big Mario to sell them their Musou games before street date so they can have them completely cleared and sold back for top price by Friday.

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Neither Tomato Mart nor Big Mario, however, had this week's biggest release, a game the likes of which could suffocate a rhino with just its instruction manual alone. Yes, I'm talking about

Dissidia: Final Fantasy

I typed up a description for this game, like, yesterday, though I have no idea where to use it, so I'll post it here:

When we were kids, we wanted two things: Super Mario Bros.: The Movie and Final Fantasy: The Fighting Game. We got one of those things, and it made us wish we were dead. Fifteen years later, we're getting the other. Let us open our hearts and prepare to wish for death again, my brothers.

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Here's a video review I did of Dissidia: Final Fantasy today at a gachapon toy-store in Nakano Broadway, despite my being unable to play the game.

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So, uhhm, yes. Neither Big Mario nor Tomato Mart have Dissidia. By God, I'm almost thirty damn years old, and look at the sentences I'm typing while Brian Ashcraft is out having a baby.

Ahem!

Anyway, here's the punchline. Ready? Tomato Mart actually had a sign out front that said: "We do not have Dissidia: Final Fantasy today. Our shipment did not yet arrive. We should be getting it in tomorrow around 1pm. We apologize sincerely for the inconvenience." Can you believe that? They're apologizing for not being able to break the street date of the biggest game of the month. You've got to love stuff like this. You just got to.

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[via Game Watch, misc]

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